Policy Sciences

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 379–400 | Cite as

Attitudes toward technology and risk: Going beyond what is immediately given

  • Lennart Sjöberg


In this paper, perceived risk and attitudes toward technology are considered in a wide contextual perspective. Risk perception data are related to technology and technology attributes, in particular with respect to the possibility of replacing a technology, to the belief that it may have as yet unknown effects, and have effects involving a destructive relationship with Nature. These contextual characteristics of a hazard are shown empirically to add powerful explanatory force to models of risk perception of attitudes toward technology. The risk concept is then further differentiated. Risk as a property of an activity is distinguished from risk as a property of an unwanted consequence (injury), the latter being clearly more important for policy attitudes. It is also found that the operational definition of risk and trust is an important factor in determining the relationship between these two concepts. Detailed study of gene technology and nuclear power showed that these hazards were particularly amenable to mapping with risk perception concepts of the kind applied here. In the case of gene technology it was also found that consumer intentions displayed much the same risk perception dynamics as policy attitudes.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lennart Sjöberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Risk ResearchStockholm School of EconomicsSweden

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