Perception of Uncertainty: Lessons for Risk Management and Communication

  • Ortwin Renn
  • Thomas Webler
  • Hans Kastenholz
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (ASID, volume 86)


The perception of risk among the general public is a rather complex phenomenon that cannot be described on the basis of a single theory or model. The major accomplishment in the psychological research was the discovery of the qualitative risk characteristics and the semantic images that serve as heuristic tools for classifying and evaluating risk sources or activities. The intuitive process of evaluating risk is governed by a multidimensional balancing procedure involving expected losses, situational circumstances, and associations with respect to the risk source. Communication programs need to incorporate these findings if they want to give people the opportunity to make prudent judgments about acceptability. The common prejudice, however, that lay people are unable to process probabilistic information is not true. As our case study demonstrates, people understand risk information and can integrate probabilities in their decision-making process. But this information is only one among others for them to form their own attitudes and judgments.


Risk Perception Public Participation Risk Communication Communication Program Risk Source 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ortwin Renn
    • 1
  • Thomas Webler
    • 1
  • Hans Kastenholz
    • 1
  1. 1.Akademie für Technikfolgenabschätzung in Baden-WürttembergStuttgartGermany

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