Risk communication needs to be communicated
What is the use of risk management if it is not communicated and evaluated? That is what Bernd Rohrmann asks in his article the evaluation of risk communication effectiveness (1992). And it is a valid question. Rohrmann argues that risk communication would be a lot more effective if there was a system where those implementing risk management strategies could evaluate their effectiveness and then share this with others. This makes sense; it could save risk communicators a lot of time and money. Think about it, instead of one risk communicator starting from scratch on deciding what will work, they could look up on a database what others have found to be effective.
Risk communicators also need to evaluate their work to see how effective it is. Rohrmann states how control groups are rarely used in evaluating risk communication, and that these are needed especially in risk communication, as there are what Rohrmann calls ‘judgmental expectancy biases’ in this field which stem from research on the social psychology of conducting experiments in risk communication. For example, one of the possible biases is what is known as the ‘Hawthorne’ effect, which states that
Subjects exposed to new conditions or possibilities (introduced as improvements) tend to react positively due to the mere existence of a program, independently of its particular function.
This would have a marked bias on results, reiterating that a control group for evaluating risk communication is definitely necessary, yet rarely is it done.
Rohrmann has made a very valid point in this article that risk communication needs to be evaluated and communicated for it to be successful.
Rohrmann, B. (1992). The evaluation of risk communication effectiveness. Acta Psychologica, 81(2), 169-192. doi:10.1016/0001-6918(92)90004-W