Hazard versus Outrage in the Public Perception of Risk

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Abstract

One goal of risk communication is to produce in the audience the appropriate level of concern and action. That is, risk communicators sometimes want to tell people to take a risk seriously—wear a seat belt, quit smoking, cut down on fats, check their homes for radon or their water for lead and take action if the level is high. On the other hand, risk communicators sometimes want to tell people not to worry so much about a risk. One would expect that at least one of these tasks would be a simple one, but it turns out that they both can be very difficult.