Comments on Risk Perception and Extreme Events
Extreme Event risk/non-marginal changes
• Another Definition: overwhelms standard coping mechanisms.
• Tax our management, impose stresses
• How we think about, perceive an action helps shape our standard coping mechanisms, and what is seen as extreme;
• perception partly determines what is an extreme event and what is not
What can risk perception research tell us generally
• Thoughts off the top of people’s heads, average person view
• How will a technology or event be widely seen: the broad comparative view
• Enormously useful for diagnosing conflicts, prescriptive aiding, communication
What to learn from Risk perception about extreme events
• Risk perception describes affective responses in systematic terms
• Affective responses are one explicit intended consequence of terrorism
• Affective responses are a fundamental influence on broader consequences
(financial, travel, investment, seeking of culprits)
• Thus efforts on mitigation/communication
Consider the over/under response to extreme events
• People tend to treat the likelihood of an extreme event as either 0 or 1.
• You can predict which will occur based on affective response, availability of events
• This thinking about extreme events may be shaped through “broad risk communication”
Influences of RP on Terrorism?
• Could not come up with a scenario more frightening: malevolent adversary, on TV, dramatic images, massive horror and destruction, then distributed through the mail system
• Assumption is we are all under active attack, life as we know it is collapsing
• Terrorists have great intuitive understanding of RP
What has RP given us so far
• Helps to predict when “social amplification” will occur, and so benefits of risk reduction bigger than might be thought
• enormously useful in designing communication
• Helpful in understanding the fundamental concerns that should help form objectives for policy decisions
• More need in context of extreme events
Where to go with new work?
• Risk perception of a range of extreme events?
• Risk perceptions of scenarios
• The links between the affective and cognitive modes of thinking or information processing. When do we benefit from intermingling and providing cues linking one to the other.
• Individuals and groups involve decisionaiding: how to blend the emotional and cognitive approaches for recommendations on policy/societal issues
• The influence of problem structuring tools on setting the framework for blending
• expanding the bounds, and improving awareness of, bounded rationality
• How to use perceptions, affective content, emotional impact broadly, as widespread screening?
• Note that when we can’t predict risks, then monitoring and rapid response becomes far more important
• Through understanding the affective content of language, we may be able to screen for terrorist actions better