Society For Risk Analysis Annual Meeting 2017

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

All About Energy

Room: Salon 2   1:30 pm–3:10 pm

Chair(s): Amanda Boyd

Sponsored by Risk Communication Specialty Group

M3-K.2  1:30 pm  A study of Japanese people’s awareness about radiation after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. Oiso S*; Institute of Nuclear Safety System

Abstract: This study used a survey to examine public awareness about radiation in light of the continuing public interest and concern over radiation since the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in Japan. The survey was conducted in 2015 among 1,000 randomly selected adult participants. In 2012 and 2014, similar surveys which had several of the same questions were conducted, so trends in awareness related to some questions was also analyzed. The percentage of persons who felt anxious about radiation was about 70%. A higher percentage of women, 77%, felt anxious about radiation than men (64%). A higher percentage of elderly persons had anxiousness compared to younger participants. The percentage of persons who knew that natural radiation exists was a little more than 60%, but the percentage was a little less than 50% for younger participants (persons less than 30 years old). In the case of analyzing the results by gender, a higher percentage of men displayed some knowledge about radiation than women did. Among the persons who answered that they knew natural radiation existed, they were additionally asked its amount. The percentages of persons who knew exposure to natural radiation for Japanese was about 2 millisieverts a year were 17% for men and 10% for women. There was also some questions for which knowledge about radiation fell in the 2015 survey compared with the 2012 survey just after the Fukushima accident. The percentage of persons who had knowledge about external exposure and internal exposure in particular fell. The percentage of persons who knew ways to protect themselves against radiation in the event of a nuclear power plant accident also fell. The passage of time since the Fukushima accident was considered as the reason for this drop. Finally, the percentage of persons who had knowledge about taking refuge indoors was less than the percentage of persons who had knowledge about evacuation to protect themselves against radiation.

M3-K.3  1:50 pm  Crisis Events, Risk Communities, and the Evolution of Public Support for Nuclear Energy in the United States. Gupta K*, Nowlin M, Ripberger J, Jenkins-Smith H, Silva C; University of Oklahoma

Abstract: Public support for nuclear energy in the United States has been a topic of interest for many decades, generating hundreds of public opinion polls and corresponding articles, books, and reports that explore the factors that influence variation in support between groups of individuals and in aggregate, over time. Many of the group studies highlight the role of risk and benefit perceptions in shaping opinions on nuclear energy; groups with high risk perceptions oppose nuclear energy, whereas groups with high benefit perceptions support it. Many of the aggregate studies focus on crisis events, such as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, that erode public support for nuclear energy. In this study, we undertake a meta-analysis of these studies to accomplish three things: (1) develop a long-term measure of public support for nuclear energy in the US that aggregates data from 229 different surveys from a variety of polling organizations; (2) use this measure to re-assess the impact of crisis events on the evolution of support for nuclear energy in the US from 1973-2016; and (3) explore the moderating effect of risk and benefit perceptions on support for nuclear energy before and after the Fukushima event. We conclude by discussing the implications of this research for risk communication and the future of nuclear energy policy in the US.

M3-K.7  2:30 pm  Symbolic information on naturalness and its biasing effect on the evaluation of energy technologies and environmental hazards: the case of fracking. Sütterlin B*, Siegrist M; ETH Zurich

Abstract: Recent research has shown that people base their evaluations of outcomes or consequences of a hazard on the symbolic meaning that relates to the naturalness of the cause of the hazard (human- vs. nature-caused), and this may result in biased judgments. The biasing effect of symbolic information has also been demonstrated in risk assessments of solar and nuclear power generation technologies. The present study provides evidence for this bias for an energy technology that has become a critical focus in several countries’ energy debates—namely, hydraulic fracturing. In an experiment, we provided participants with a text describing how several hundred animals died due to toxic chemicals that were released into the soil and entered the water of a nature reserve. The participants were told either that 1) the chemicals had originated from the burst pipe of a fracking installation (“man-made” chemicals, human cause); 2) the chemicals were naturally occurring but were released due to vibrations caused by a nearby fracking installation (natural chemicals, human cause); or 3) the chemicals were naturally occurring and were released because of an earthquake (natural chemicals, natural cause). The analysis revealed that the identical outcome (i.e., the death of several hundred animals) was perceived as being more severe when the hazard was human-caused (i.e., fracking) than when it was nature-caused (i.e., earthquake). Furthermore, animal suffering was perceived to be lower when the animals died because of naturally occurring chemicals released by an earthquake compared to chemicals released due to the burst pipe of a fracking installation. The present study provides further evidence for the biasing effect of symbolic information on naturalness on the evaluation of energy technologies and environmental hazards. Further, the findings suggest that this bias is driven by the cause of a hazard rather than the naturalness of the “direct cause” of a negative effect (i.e., chemicals).

M3-K.9  2:50 pm  Risk Perceptions of Smart Meters: Examining the Role of Privacy Concerns, Technological Readiness, and Technological Norms. Joo J*, Hmielowski J, Boyd A; Washington State University

Abstract: Smart meter installation is an increasing issue of concern relative to U.S. and international energy systems. The successful deployment of smart meters will in part depend on public perceptions of the technology. Some proponents argue that the installation of smart meters will help companies effectively manage energy grids, and lead to greater energy efficiency and cost savings for consumers. Despite the benefits of smart meters, some oppose the installation of this technology. In particular, there is concern about threats to public privacy because the technology collects data in real time. In addition to privacy concerns, people’s beliefs about technology and social norms tied to new technologies may influence support for installing smart meters in their homes. The main objectives of this study are to investigate three sets of variables that may influence support for installing smart meters including: (1) concerns about and experience with privacy violations; (2) technological readiness (i.e., perceptions of technology-based systems), and (3) technological norms (e.g., norms that influence support for technology). This study is based on a survey of 1,035 Americans in 17 states. Our results show that individuals who were more concerned about privacy were less likely to support the installation of smart meters. In terms of technological readiness, individuals skeptical about new technologies was less likely to support smart meter installations, while those with more positive perceptions of new technologies were more likely to support the installation of smart meters. Finally, we found that technological norms did not correlate with support for smart meter installation. Overall, support for smart meters varied depending on people’s concerns about privacy and their perspectives about new technologies. We conclude with a discussion of why the public may or may not support smart meters and provide recommendations for effective risk communication about the technology.

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