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

New Developments in Risk Perception and Risk Communication Theory

Room: Salon 2   1:30 pm–3:10 pm

Chair(s): Christopher Clarke

Sponsored by Risk Communications Specialty Group

T3-K.1  1:30 pm  Measuring risk perception: Is there a right way? Wilson RS*, Zwickle A; The Ohio State University

Abstract: Risk perception is often measured in a variety of ways, with the most popular measures being a combination of probability and consequence, or likelihood and severity. However, the measures reported in the literature also include items related to worry, concern, exposure, and vulnerability, just to name a few. A recent paper by Ferrer et al. (2016) in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine claims that there are three key dimensions to risk perception: deliberative, affective and experiential. However, this study focused solely on a disease context to assess their measure. Overall, there is no real consistency or agreement in the measures that are used, presenting a real challenge for understanding what exactly we are measuring when we measure perceived risk. To address this challenge, we conducted a review of the literature to identify the range of measures used previously, and then developed a survey instrument containing a standardized set of items capturing multiple dimensions of risk perception. The survey was deployed with a representative online panel of U.S. citizens. We tested these multi-item measures of risk perception for multiple categories of hazards ranging from those posing both environmental and human health consequences (e.g., water pollution) to those posing health consequences only (e.g., disease). We also measured individual traits of the respondents to assess how responses to particular items may vary by respondent characteristics, as well as intentions to act to reduce one’s risk for a given hazard. We used psychometric techniques to identify the most valid and reliable measure of the construct from the set of possible items, exploring to what extent the best measure varied for different types of hazards. Results of the measurement study will be presented and recommendations for how to best measure risk perception for different contexts will be discussed.

T3-K.2  1:50 pm  Public concern about risk: a critical (re) evaluation. BARNETT J*, FELLENOR J; University of Bath

Abstract: The nature of public concern about risk, what occasions it, what it leads to and how to manage it has been an ongoing focus of academic, policy and practitioner attention for the last 50 years. The notion of the Social Amplification of Risk has provided a framework for considering these issues and in particular has focused scholarly attention on the way in which the object and magnitude of public concerns are often different from those of experts. Using the Social Amplification of Risk Framework, this paper critically evaluates the notion of public concern about risk. Through a review of the risk perception literature we identify the metrics that have been used to operationalise public responses to risk and consider the ways in which these metrics have been depicted and visualised. Against this backdrop we report the results of empirical work exploring the nature of public concern around the impact of tree pests and diseases by comparing survey results, interviews, social media analysis, emails to UK government and comments following media reports. On the basis of the literature and the empirical work we argue that in the first instance, concern may be best conceptualised as attentiveness. The range of data sources, both naturally occurring and those solicited as part of the research process, provide insight into the ways in which manifestations of ‘concern’ are a function of the methods used to capture, measure and depict it. Finally we outline the notion of a ‘concern-public assemblage’; a notion designed to explicitly problematise existing ideas about publics and concern, and which captures the dynamic interrelations between people, policymakers, researchers and contextualised risk.

T3-K.3  2:10 pm  Fighting risk with risk: An exploration of attitudes towards inter-domain risk tradeoffs . Walpole HW*, Wilson RS; The Ohio State University

Abstract: Considerable research in psychology and economics has examined people’s willingness to undertake risk, generally known as risk attitude. While early research defined a person’s attitude towards risk as a single trait, more recent work suggests a more nuanced process where people may underweight some kinds of risks while they overweight others. This domain-specific account has many advantages but is not without its limits. Many decisions involve tradeoffs in risks and/or rewards across domains, for instance, gambling carries financial risks and rewards as well as social risks (being labeled a degenerate gambler). Our current understanding of domain specific risk-taking does not take into account the potential for domain specific risk attitudes to scale differently from one another. As such, our current instruments may not be able to accurately predict what a person would do when forced to trade-off two risk domains. It is critical in these situations to understand not only how important each risk is to a person but also how important they are relative to one another. Our research aims to aid understanding of people’s risk-taking behaviors by measuring attitudes toward inter-domain risk tradeoffs and identifying whether these decisions can be predicted by differences in standard domain specific risk attitude measures. Participants will be presented with a version of the DoSpeRT scale and a series of choices between paired gambles that require tradeoffs between risk in two domains (e.g., finance vs. safety). Identifying how much risk results in a preference reversal between gambles will allow us to dial in how much risk a person will accept in one domain to avoid risk in the other and whether these tradeoffs can be explained with individual domain risk attitudes. We believe that this approach will produce stable attitudes towards risk tradeoffs that may be helpful for predicting and understanding engagement in behaviors that involve risk tradeoffs between domains.

T3-K.4  2:30 pm  Development and validation of novel scales to measures cultural worldviews in the UK. Lord JJ*, Whitmarsh L, Poortinga W; Cardiff University

Abstract: Cultural worldviews refer to preferences for social organisations or “ways of life” often conceptualised according to two orthogonal dimensions of grid (hierarchism vs egalitarianism) and group (individualism vs communitarianism), and have been linked to perceptions of various hazards. Several scales are available to measure worldviews. However, most of these have been developed within the US context, and exhibit poorer psychometric and predictive performance in other cultural contexts. This paper presents the development of the United Kingdom Worldview Scales (UKWS). An initial item-pool was developed with reference to existing worldview measures and socio-political attitudes in the UK. Following initial cognitive interviewing, items were revised and administered in a pilot survey (n = 190). Psychometric analyses identified poorly performing items. The remaining items were then administered in a nationally representative survey (n = 1,533). Following further psychometric analyses, a 9-item hierarchy and a 6-item individualism scale were rendered. Correlations with related constructs confirmed the convergent validity of the two scales, and regression models revealed that they relate to risk perceptions as predicted. The causality of these relationships was subsequently tested in a survey experiment (n = 594). In the experimental condition, participants completed a task designed to increase their egalitarianism, using mortality salience and an egalitarianism prime. All participants completed the UKWS and risk perception measures. Relationships found between worldviews and risk perceptions confirmed the predictive validity of the UKWS. Neither hierarchy nor individualism scores differed between the experimental and control condition, however, suggesting that the manipulation did not influence worldviews. MANOVA revealed that risk perceptions did not differ across conditions. Implications for the use of value primes in risk research and communication are discussed.

T3-K.5  2:50 pm  The effects of construal level on perceptions of climate-exacerbated hazards. Walpole EH*, Wilson RS, Toman E; The Ohio State University

Abstract: It is well understood that climate change will result in more intense and damaging natural hazards in many areas. Studies have also established that concrete construal of hazards often increase perceptions of risk and likelihood, while attributions of extreme weather events to climate change among those impacted by such events, and the public at large, have been increasing. We are interested in exploring the underlying mechanisms of these relationships and how they may be connected. Specifically, our research questions are how construal manipulations affect perceptions of natural hazards and how climate change associations may alter these effects. We conducted an experiment where we manipulated participants’ mental construal level, and whether a hazard is associated with climate change or not in an informational message. We hypothesized that concrete construals will be more effective at increasing risk perceptions and mitigation intentions for a hazard in the absence of climate change associations. However, because matching construal levels (between objects and mindsets) reduces the effort required to traverse mental distances, we hypothesized that associating a hazard with climate change (in itself an abstract concept) will have a moderating effect on that relationship, resulting in abstract construals being more effective at increasing risk perception and mitigation intentions when the hazard is believed to be associated with climate change. The results can contribute to our understanding of both Construal Level Theory and how to best engage the public about protecting themselves from climate change related hazards and extreme weather events.

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