Public Perception Of Risk

The nine criteria in Table 11.8.3 are identified as influencing public perceptions of risk. The characteristics of the criteria on the left contribute to perceptions of low risk, while the criteria on the right contribute to perceptions of higher risk.

Several general observations about perceptions of risk have been made. People tend to judge exposure to involuntary activities or technologies as riskier than voluntary ones. The obvious reason for this perception is that voluntary risk can be avoided whereas involuntary risk cannot. The amount of pesticide residues in food or the concentration of contaminants in drinking water is an involuntary decision for the public. Therefore, the public must turn to the government to regulate these activities and technologies.

Catastrophic events are perceived as riskier than ordinary events. For example, the chance of a plane crash

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