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...
References and Further Readings
- 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
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- Leventhal, H., Meyer, D., & Nerenz, D. (1980). The common sense representation of illness danger. Medical Psychology, 2, 7–30.Google Scholar
- Plous, S. (1993). The psychology of judgment and decision making. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
- Slovic, P. (1992). Perception of risk: Reflections on the psychometric paradigm. In S. Krimsky & D. Golding (Eds.), Social theories of risk (pp. 117–152). Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
- Slovic, P. (2000). The perception of risk. Sterling: Earthscan.Google Scholar
- Slovic, P., Fischhoff, B., & Lichtenstein, S. (1985). Characterizing perceived risk. In R. W. Kates, C. Hohenemser, & J. X. Kasperson (Eds.), Perilous progress: Managing the hazards of technology. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
- 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