Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Risk communication: the importance of emotions.

A paper from the most recent Risk Analysis.

Method: Respondents affected by the flood of 2005 answered the question: “What was the worst thing about the flood of 2005 for you?” Respondents not affected by the flood of 2005 answered the question: “When you imagine a flood, what would be the worst thing for you?”

Result: The two groups provided completely different answers. For the affected group, affective
reactions, such as uncertainty, insecurity, fear, shock, and helplessness, were among the worst aspects of the flood. These negative feelings were rarely mentioned by the respondents not affected by the flood.

Implication: Results suggest that most people have difficulties in accurately imaging how they would be feeling were they to be involved in a natural hazard. Respondents not affected by the flood, on the other hand, overestimated the importance of casualties and destruction of houses and landscape, compared with respondents who experienced a recent flood.

I wonder if that is why "emotion" explains why women's risk perception is different from that of men, a result from another paper in the same issue.

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