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

Temporal Issues in Risk Communication

Room: Peale A&B   10:30 AM- 12:00 PM

Chair(s): John Besley

Sponsored by RCSG

T2-G.1  10:30  The effects of psychological distance on risk perception, behavioral intention, and mitigation behavior. Zwickle A*, Wilson R; The Ohio State University

Abstract: Psychological distance, the distance an object is removed from an individual across the social, spatial, temporal, and hypothetical domains, has been shown to influence behavior in a myriad of ways. Our current research uses psychological distance to increase the weight individuals give to the distant benefits associated with risk mitigation in order to offset the effects of temporal discounting. We present our latest round of research integrating psychological distance into risk communication in order to encourage greater risk mitigating behavior in the real world. Results are presented from a door-to-door survey and an online follow-up survey where the risks associated with radon were presented as occurring either psychologically near or far in relation to the individual. We discuss the effects of psychological distance on risk perception, behavioral intention, and actual mitigation behavior, as well as how the personal relevance of the risk influences the direction of these effects. The implications of our findings and future possibilities for improving risk communication efforts by incorporating psychological distance are also discussed.

T2-G.2  10:50  Climate Change and Related Risks: Personal or Impersonal? Kirby-Straker R.*, Turner M.; University of Maryland, College Park; George Washington University

Abstract: The degree to which people perceive a risk as being personal or impersonal will determine their response to the risk. This dichotomous classification of risks is related to perceived personal relevance, and an important challenge for environmental risk communicators is determining how to increase personal relevance, in other words, how to make impersonal risks more personal. Before risk communicators address this challenge however, they must first gain a better understanding of how their audience views the risks of interest. A survey (N = 170) conducted at the University of Maryland, College Park, investigated student perceptions of eight risks: climate change, drought, flood, global warming, heat wave, high pollen count, tornado, and West Nile Virus. Participants were asked to indicate on a scale of zero to 100, their perceptions of these risks based on characteristics such as personal relevance, severity, susceptibility, immediacy, and abstractness. Demographic data, including gender, political philosophy, and home state were also collected. The data reiterated the complexity of risk perceptions and the need to unpack subjective judgments of risk before attempting to develop risk communication strategies to change public perceptions. The data however revealed promising results for climate change and global warming, in that both were considered to be the least abstract of the eight risks and the most severe, and participants considered themselves to be most susceptible to both these risks than to the other six, despite their perceptions that these risks were the least immediate, and that they were more likely to affect people in other countries. Although these results bode well for social change regarding climate change, they suggest a disconnection between perceptions of climate change and the other risks.

T2-G.3  11:10  Perils and Promises of One Health Risk Messages about Lyme Disease. Roh S, McComas K*, Decker D, Rickard L; Cornell University

Abstract: The next several decades are predicted to witness increasing prevalence of zoonotic diseases; however, not everyone will experience these risks equally. One such disease is Lyme disease, which is a growing risk to many but not all U.S. regions. Using a randomized experiment based on a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults (N = 460), we examine how respondents react to messages about Lyme disease depending on its prevalence in their state. Additionally, in support of our ongoing research program that examines ways to communicate about the interconnectedness of human, environmental, and wildlife health (e.g., One Health), we investigate how the attribution of responsibility for Lyme disease and its temporal proximity influences perceptions of disease risk. Respondents received one of four messages varying the temporal proximity (today vs. in the next ten years) and responsibility (wildlife vs. human and environmental factors) for Lyme disease. We used CDC data to categorize respondents as living in high, medium, or low prevalence states. The multi-level modeling shows the temporal frame × responsibility frame × prevalence (fixed effects) interactions, suggesting some perils and promises of One Health risk messages. Among them, respondents living in low prevalence states tended to see the risks of Lyme disease as decreasing when they read the message blaming wildlife behavior and using a temporally distal frame. Conversely, the same message resulted in increased risk perceptions among respondents living in mid-prevalence. Respondents living in high prevalence states who read the One Health message with a temporally proximal frame, which we might consider the most scientifically accurate message, tended to see the risks as decreasing. We consider these results in light of efforts seeking to enhance risk communication of Lyme disease, as well as the implications of One Health risk messages. We also discuss plausible mechanisms of the observed message effects.

T2-G.4  11:30  Where there’s a will: Can highlighting future youth-targeted marketing build support for health policy initiatives? Roh S*, Schuldt JP; Cornell University

Abstract: Amid concern about high rates of obesity and related diseases, the marketing of nutritionally poor foods to young people by the food industry has come under heavy criticism by public health advocates, who cite decades of youth-targeted marketing in arguing for policy reforms. In light of recent evidence that the same event evokes stronger emotions when it occurs in the future versus the past, highlighting youth-targeted marketing that has yet to occur may evoke stronger reactions to such practices, and perhaps, greater support for related health policy initiatives. Web participants (N=285) read that a major soda company had already launched (past condition) or was planning to launch (future condition) an advertising campaign focusing on children. Measures included support for a soda tax and affective responses to the company’s actions. Greater support for the soda tax was observed in the future condition compared to the past condition, an effect that was fully mediated by heightened negative emotions reported toward the soda company in the future condition. The same action undertaken by the food industry (here, marketing soda to children) may evoke stronger negative emotions and greater support for a health policy initiative when it is framed prospectively rather than retrospectively.

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