Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 241–257

The Role of Social Distrust in Risk-Benefit Analysis: A Study of the Siting of a Hazardous Waste Disposal Facility

  • Peter A. Groothuis
  • Gail Miller

DOI: 10.1023/A:1007757326382

Cite this article as:
Groothuis, P.A. & Miller, G. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty (1997) 15: 241. doi:10.1023/A:1007757326382


Distrust of social institutions is becoming an important component of risk communication and policy analysis. To assess the impact of social distrust on decision making, we examine the role of distrust of information sources on the willingness to accept a hazardous waste disposal facility in one's neighborhood. Using a prospective-reference utility model, distrust of information sources is analyzed a possible influence on individual choice in a risk-benefit tradeoff. Using contingent valuation survey data on the siting of a hazardous waste disposal facility, we find that respondents are particularly distrustful of both governmental officials and waste disposal businesses. We find that social distrust increases the perceived risk of a facility and influences the likelihood of accepting a referendum to site a hazardous waste disposal facility. The level of compensation offered in the contingent valuation scenario also is found to influence a respondent's risk perception.

Contingent valuation risk assessment social distrust 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter A. Groothuis
    • 1
  • Gail Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Economics and BusinessWestminster CollegeNew Wilmington

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