How risky is too risky?
Error in the lay people’s perception of risk is often exploited and a change in this perception is sought. The research of this perception, making it known to experts and decision makers, would be beneficial for the communication of hazard.
The basic instinct of people is to avoid harm. Harm can mean different things to people depending on their past experiences, location, age, gender and values. The extent of the harm to themselves and the people around them is directly linked to the risk involved with the incident. To have an idea of what the lay public perceive as risky and not risky would be a way to scale and quantify risk.
Something unknown such as Nanotechnology would be perceived as risky, where as something known like taking an aspirin for a headache would be less risky. To plot these applications, developing a scale and therefore quantifying risk would be a way for the black hole in communication between experts and the lay people to be eliminated.
When I thinking of communicating risk, my mind often wanders to what would happen if Zombies attacked. How would the experts communicate something most wouldn’t believe existed?
What do you fear most? If someone told you that you were wrong to fear that, would you stop?
Slovic, P. (1987). Perception of Risk. Science, 236(4799), 280-285.