Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Risk Perception

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_866
  • 1.2k Downloads

Synonyms

Definition

Risk perceptions are beliefs about potential harm or the possibility of a loss. It is a subjective judgment that people make about the characteristics and severity of a risk.

Description

The degree of risk associated with a given behavior is generally considered to represent the likelihood and consequences of harmful effects that result from that behavior. To perceive risk includes evaluations of the probability as well as the consequences of an uncertain outcome. There are three dimensions of perceived risk – perceived likelihood (the probability that one will be harmed by the hazard), perceived susceptibility (an individual’s constitutional vulnerability to a hazard), and perceived severity (the extent of harm a hazard would cause). Risk perceptions are central to many health behavior theories. For example, models that have been developed specifically to predict health behavior such as the health belief model (Rosenstock, 1966),...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Readings

  1. Ajzen, I. (1985). From intentions to actions: A theory of planned behavior. In J. Kuhl & J. Beckman (Eds.), Action-control: From cognition to behavior (pp. 11–39). Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  2. Bandura, A. (1977). Self efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavior change. Psychological Review, 84, 191–215.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (2006). The anchoring-and-adjustment heuristic: Why the adjustments are insufficient. Psychological Science, 17, 311–318.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fischhoff, B., Slovic, P., & Lichtenstein, S. (1983). The Public vs. ‘the Experts’. In V. T. Covello, W. G. Flamm, J. V. Rodricks, & R. G. Tardiff (Eds.), The analysis of actual vs. perceived risks (pp. 235–249). New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fischhoff, B., Slovic, P., Lichtenstein, S., Read, S., & Combs, B. (1978). How safe is safe enough? A psychometric study of attitudes towards technological risks and benefits. Policy Studies, 9, 127–152.Google Scholar
  6. Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (1975). Belief, attitude and intention and behavior: An introduction to theory and research. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  7. Gilovich, T., Griffin, D., & Kahneman, D. (2002). Heuristics and biases – The psychology of intuitive judgment. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1973). On the psychology of prediction. Psychological Review, 80, 237–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Leventhal, H., Meyer, D., & Nerenz, D. (1980). The common sense representation of illness danger. Medical Psychology, 2, 7–30.Google Scholar
  10. Plous, S. (1993). The psychology of judgment and decision making. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  11. Rogers, R. W. (1975). A protection motivation theory of fear appeals and attitude change. Journal of Psychology, 91, 93–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Rosenstock, I. M. (1966). Why people use health services. Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly, 44, 94–127.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Slovic, P. (2000). The perception of risk. Virginia: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  14. Slovic, P., Fischhoff, B., & Lichtenstein, S. (1980). Facts and fears: Understanding perceived risk. In R. C. Schwing & W. A. Albers (Eds.), Societal risk assessment: How safe is safe enough? (pp. 181–216). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  15. Slovic, P., Fischhoff, B., & Lichtenstein, S. (1982). Why study risk perception? Risk Analysis, 2, 83–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Slovic, P., Fischhoff, B., & Lichtenstein, S. (1985). Characterizing perceived risk. In R. W. Kates, C. Hohenemser, & J. X. Kasperson (Eds.), Perilous progress: Managing the Hazarak of technologv. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  17. Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1973). Availability: A heuristic for judging frequency and probability. Cognitive Psychology, 5, 207–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgments under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science, 185, 1124–1131.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Wildavsky, A., & Dake, K. (1990). Theories of risk perception: Who fears what and why? American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Daedalus), 119, 41–60.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Health & Primary CareTrinity College, The University of DublinDublinIreland