Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Risk Perception

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_866-2



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.


The degree of risk associated with a given behavior is generally considered to represent the likelihood and, given its occurrence, the 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...

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References and Further Readings

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Health & Primary CareTrinity College Dublin, The University of DublinDublinIreland
  2. 2.School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of BirminghamBirminghamUK