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Risk Perceptions

  • By: Lezlie C. Morinière
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

A risk perception is the opinion held concerning a given shock or risk. Perceptions are formed automatically and altered regularly for all types of risk, including natural or technological hazards and conflict. Theories of risk perception arose from the acknowledgement that experts and nonexperts perceive risks very differently. The perceived seriousness of risks such as nuclear technology has often been diametrically opposed to that calculated by risk professionals.

Scientific literature often treats natural hazard perception as biased or inadequate, but perception is formed in the same way as opinion. Perception is neither right nor wrong, neither good nor bad, and like opinion, can evolve. Perception of natural and other hazards is a sociocultural construct juggled and tested by the public alongside a host of information sources ...

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