The Psychology of Risk
Presidents Hall, Franklin Hall
Studies of risk perception examine the judgments people make when they are asked to characterize and evaluate hazardous activities and technologies. This research aims to aid risk analysis and policymaking by (i) providing a basis for understanding and anticipating public responses to hazards and (ii) improving the communication of risk information among lay people, technical experts, and decision makers. This work assumes that those who promote and regulate health and safety need to understand how people think about and respond to risk. Without such understanding, well-intended policies may be ineffective. Among the questions the lecturer will address are: How do people think about risk? What factors determine the perception of risk and the acceptance of risk? What role do emotion and reason play in risk perception? What are some of the social and economic implications of risk perceptions? Along the way, he will address such topics as the subjective and value-laden nature of risk assessment; the multidimensionality of risk; sex, politics, and emotion in risk judgments; risk and trust; and risk perception and terrorism.