Society For Risk Analysis Annual Meeting 2013

Session Schedule & Abstracts

* Disclaimer: All presentations represent the views of the authors, and not the organizations that support their research. Please apply the standard disclaimer that any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in abstracts, posters, and presentations at the meeting are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other organization or agency. Meeting attendees and authors should be aware that this disclaimer is intended to apply to all abstracts contained in this document. Authors who wish to emphasize this disclaimer should do so in their presentation or poster. In an effort to make the abstracts as concise as possible and easy for meeting participants to read, the abstracts have been formatted such that they exclude references to papers, affiliations, and/or funding sources. Authors who wish to provide attendees with this information should do so in their presentation or poster.

Common abbreviations

Poster Platform: Traditional and Social Media Effects

Room: Key Ballroom 1   8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Chair(s): Nicole Kain

Sponsored by RCSG

T1-A.1  Finding Words That Work: Assessing Media Coverage of Water Issues Across Iowa. Miles S*, Dalrymple K. E., Madsen P, Krajewski J; University of Iowa

Abstract: The past decade has seen a rise in concern for water resource management and policies under the increasing strain from domestic, agricultural, industrial and recreational use of our nation’s aquatic resources. Iowa, like many other states, is investing in research and technology to improve sustainability practices in hopes that proper management today will provide abundance in the future. Studies suggest that policy initiatives created by university researchers and government officials find more success through engagement with the public to promote understanding of water sustainability concerns and participation in community efforts (Gleick, 2003). Crucial antecedents to awareness for any environmental concern are knowledge and understanding of the processes, terminology, and science surrounding the issue. Previous research suggests that the public obtains basic understandings of science and technology through exposure to mass media messages (Friedman, Dunwoody, & Rogers, 1986). This study builds upon this research by investigating how Iowa newspapers cover water-related topics with a goal of informing future research concerning public knowledge of water sustainability issues and policies. We examine these research questions using a content analysis of daily Iowa newspapers with a circulation between 8,470 and 120,654 covering the region of interest. Results shed light upon the ways that journalists address water issues in relation to topics covered, such as drought, toxicity problems, utility sources, recreational uses, and ecological perspectives. These findings not only contribute to our understanding of water sustainability coverage, but also provide insight as to what water related media content Iowa residents are exposed to in their daily lives. Implications of this research regarding the potential effects that such media exposure may have on knowledge of water issues, public opinion towards water use and regulation, and future support of water policies are discussed.

T1-A.3  Social Media and Food Crisis Communication. Cuite CL*, Hallman WK; Rutgers, The State University

Abstract: This study explores how to use social media to effectively communicate with the public about food risks. Using an Internet-based survey with a national sample of 1904 adults, we tested how the format of a URL affects how people respond to a message and the effectiveness of different sources of a social media message. We randomly assigned participants to see one of four “tiny” URLs at the end of a social-media style message (in which no source was identified) concerning a food contamination event. The URLs are from actual government tweets, two with ( and and two with random text ( and The two URLS with “” were significantly more likely to be perceived as being from the government (F (3, 1167) 20.78, p <.000) and less likely to be seen as a hoax (F (3, 1175) 11.32, p <.000), and respondents were more likely to say that they would click on the link to seek more information (F (3, 1182) 13.65, p <.000). To test source effects, we randomly assigned participants to see a second social media message that was identified as coming from either the company involved in a foodborne illness outbreak, MSNBC, Fox News, the state police, US DHS, or US FDA. There was a significant effect of source on all related dependent variables (understanding: F (6, 1125) =3.94, p<.001; perceived accuracy: F (6, 1125) =6.17, p<.000; likely to avoid: F (6, 1125) =3.42, p<.002; authenticity: F (6, 1125) =6.75, p<.000). Identifying the company involved in the outbreak and not identifying the source of the message were least effective in terms of perceived accuracy, understanding, and plans to avoid the contaminated food. These increased with attribution to media sources, and increased even more for government sources. These findings are important and actionable because they clearly suggest that social media messages are most likely to be useful when clearly identified as coming from the government.

T1-A.4  To fortify or not, a structural analysis of the public advisory policy on folic acid in France. HERRERA DA*; Toulouse School of Economics

Abstract: This paper analyzes consumer’s response to the French advisory policy on folic acid. The advisory was issued in 2005 in order to warn pregnant women or women who plan to become pregnant about the perils of a poor diet and the bad health consequences to their offspring. The advisory specifically mentions the peril of neural tube diseases (NTDs) that would result from a deficiency of folic acid. We are interested in how consumers responded to the advisory policy. We investigate consumers’ responses in terms of their demand for fortified ready-to-eat breakfast cereals making use of structural difference in difference (DiD) methods. Even though the prevalence of NTDs did not change after the introduction of the advisory policy, we find evidence of a positive effect on at-risk consumers’ demand for fortified cereals. Fortification is, however, controversial because it may have potential side effects including cancer and neurotoxic effects in individuals’ aged 50 or older. We therefore provide a welfare assessment of a fortification policy in France. We find that the benefits of fortification outweigh the costs by a large amount.

T1-A.5  Nuclear media discourse post-Fukushima: The state of media coverage pertaining to nuclear energy before and after the Fukushima 2011 nuclear incident . Bell MZ*, Yang ZJ; State University of New York at Buffalo, State University of New York at Buffalo

Abstract: Public and lay perceptions of nuclear energy have long been studied, and so too has media representation of nuclear energy, often cited to be either heavily scaremongering or deceptively rose-tinted in its portrayals. These studies of risk perception and media content have often centered on certain risk events such as Three Mile Island or Chernobyl. Given the timely opportunity, this paper seeks to continue this legacy of nuclear risk studies taking the recent example of the Fukushima Daiichi 2011 incident to explore the ways in which a new nuclear risk affects the representation of ‘nuclear energy’, seeking to understand whether representations in three major US newspapers are different before and after the Fukushima accident. Results show that views represented in the media are less positive during 2011 but the rebound effect may be present with portrayals becoming more positive in 2012. There is also evidence in the media of support in continuance of nuclear energy despite Fukushima, with fewer mentions of alternative sources in 2012. We also see more discussion of natural hazard concerns regarding nuclear energy. The overall message seems to be that Fukushima has had an impact on the newspaper discourse, yet the media continues to see the nuclear revival as pivotal to the energy scene.

T1-A.6  Controversy in Energy Technology Innovation: Contrasting Community Perspectives of the Alleged Leak at the Weyburn Carbon Capture and Storage Demonstration Project. Boyd AD*; University of Calgary

Abstract: In January 2011 a local farm couple from Western Canada held a press conference claiming CO2 had leaked from the Weyburn carbon capture and storage (CCS) project onto their land. The Weyburn site is one of the world’s first and largest developments demonstrating the feasibility of CCS in an enhanced oil recovery project. This was the first publicly reported instance of a leak from a CCS demonstration site and the allegations provide an opportunity to examine how a negative event can affect the perceptions of new and emerging technologies. The views of 120 residents in three different communities were explored through in-depth individual and small group interviews. Community case studies included: 1) Weyburn, Saskatchewan the location of the Weyburn CO2 Project; 2) Priddis, Alberta the location of a proposed research project that was halted due to local concerns; and 3) Fairview, Alberta which did not have any plans for a carbon injection project and serves as a comparison community. Results demonstrate that communities perceived the allegations differently. Most participants who lived near the Weyburn CO2 Project stated that there was no CO2 leak and they were not concerned about future negative events associated with CCS. Residents from Fairview and Priddis were concerned about CO2 leaks and the allegations ultimately became a factor in the cancellation of the proposed project in Priddis. This study compares and contrasts the differences in community perspectives and considers the influence of early controversy on the development of emerging technologies.

T1-A.7  What has Google Reported about Nanotechnology Risks? Friedman SM*, Egolf BP; Lehigh University

Abstract: Over time, coverage of nanotechnology risks has gradually disappeared from most traditional newspapers and wire services. Much of this coverage now appears on the Internet, and when people want to find out information about nanotechnology, Google is the first place they will probably look. Google will direct them to an ever-changing array of websites, blogs, online newspapers and news releases, all discussing various aspects of nanotechnology. This presentation will review Google alerts for nanotechnology risks for 2010 and 2011. These alerts were saved to provide a retrievable and unchanging set of articles for analysis because tracking information over time with Google is difficult for technical reasons. Various types of Google information sources that included nanotechnology risk news will be categorized to evaluate which ones were included in Google alerts most often. Discussions of information about nanotechnology health, environmental and societal risks in a randomly selected group of the Google alerts will be compared to coverage of similar risks that appeared in the New Haven Independent, an online newspaper that provided dedicated nanotechnology coverage during the same period. Comparisons also will focus on the types of nanotechnology materials covered, whether events, reports or news releases drove the coverage, if uncertainty was discussed, and whether positive information about nanotechnology was included in these risk articles. Discussions of regulation issues, plans and programs also will be compared.

T1-A.8  Getting Information to Underserved Communities using Twitter: Lessons from Hurricane Sandy. Lachlan KA*, Spence PR, Lin X; University of Massachusetts Boston (Lachlan), University of Kentucky (Spence & Lin)

Abstract: With its capability for real time updating and reports from the scenes of accidents and disasters, Twitter has emerged as a medium that may be especially useful for emergency managers communicating the risks associated with impending events. Yet, little is known about the ways in which Twitter is being utilized during widespread disasters, or the ways in which government agencies are using Twitter in reaching at risk populations. Given past research suggesting that members of underserved communities may be especially at risk during crisis and natural disasters, this is especially problematic. The current study involves an automated content analysis of over 20,000 tweets collected in the days leading up to the landfall of Hurricane Sandy, and a human coder subsample of 1785 tweets that were evaluated in greater depth. Tweets containing the hashtag #sandy were examined, since this was the official hashtag used by the National Weather Service in their communication efforts. Tweets were collected in four hour intervals over the course of four days. The results indicate that in the days leading up to landfall, risk information became less prevalent and expressions of negative affect became more common. Tweets from relief agencies and emergency managers were all but absent in the sea of information. Tweets in languages other than English were largely absent during the developing stages of the crisis, and very few of these contained actionable information. The results are discussed in terms of best practices for emergency managers in conveying risk information to historically underserved communities.

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