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11/04/08 12:15Geog 21521 Hazard Risk and Culture (Wildavsky and Dake., in Cutter: Ch 13) theories of risk perception, a focus on individuals/groups –knowledge.

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Presentation on theme: "11/04/08 12:15Geog 21521 Hazard Risk and Culture (Wildavsky and Dake., in Cutter: Ch 13) theories of risk perception, a focus on individuals/groups –knowledge."— Presentation transcript:

1 11/04/08 12:15Geog 21521 Hazard Risk and Culture (Wildavsky and Dake., in Cutter: Ch 13) theories of risk perception, a focus on individuals/groups –knowledge –personality –economic –political –cultural which explains most/best? implications Geography 106b Hazards

2 11/04/08 12:15Geog 21522 Discussion Why do some people feel nuclear technology or chemical pesticides or hazardous waste are a large concern while others feel they are a small concern? We have already focused attention on characteristics of hazards; what about characteristics of individuals/groups?

3 11/04/08 12:15Geog 21523 Why should we care? Why bother doing research on what hazards people fear and why?

4 11/04/08 12:15Geog 21524 Why should we care? Why bother doing research on what hazards people fear and why?

5 11/04/08 12:15Geog 21525 Problem several different theories to explain why some (technological) hazard risks warrant attention and others do not which theory(ies) is/are most important? –knowledge –personality –economic –political –cultural

6 11/04/08 12:15Geog 21526 Knowledge Theory pragmatic thesis: awareness: of-course-people- are-worried-they-have-lots-to-worry- about (Holdren, 1983) focus on safety: “subtle” threats (e.g., nuclear technology) receive attention because more immediately serious (e.g., auto accidents) are “taken care of”

7 11/04/08 12:15Geog 21527 Knowledge Theory Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – e.g., for safety

8 11/04/08 12:15Geog 21528 Measuring Knowledge Theory self report level of education perceptual accuracy (fatalities from 8 technological activities compared to expert-collected data – e.g. contraceptives, aviation, lawn mowers) hypothesis: greater knowledge = greater perceived threat from hazards

9 11/04/08 12:15Geog 21529 Measuring Knowledge Theory Questions: Do you agree that these measures relate well to the theory? Do you agree with the hypothesis that greater knowledge will be associated with greater perceived hazard threat? Why/why not?

10 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215210 Personality Theory perceived danger risk takers and risk averters Oblomov

11 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215211 Measuring Personality Theory traditional, validated measures developed by psychologists Adjective Check List, California Psychological InventoryAdjective Check ListCalifornia Psychological Inventory scales developed for other purposes e.g., autonomous, conciliatory, exhibitionist hypothesis: there is consistency between various personality types and perceived threat from hazards

12 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215212 Economic Theory (two competing theories) classical wealthy more willing to take risks with technology (i.e., they benefit) poor less willing as they bear burdens (e.g., pollution) post materialist high living standards achieved, want (even) better health and better interpersonal relations wealth/free market capitalism not ends in themselves

13 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215213 Measuring Economic Theory income Question Which hypothesis do you find more compelling, the classical or the post- materialist?

14 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215214 Political Theory risk view advances or maintains political position/power researchers focus on socio- demographic characteristics (e.g., gender, age, social class, liberal- conservative rating, membership in political party)

15 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215215 Measuring Political Orientation political party membership liberal-conservative ideology scale (stance on 20 policy issues) self-rated liberal or conservative

16 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215216 Cultural Theory choice of risk to fear supports (consistent with) “way of life” or “political culture” (e.g., rural farming, retirement, child rearing) supported by: –cultural biases: worldviews (way the world does and should work) –interpersonal relations (connections) (hierarchical, egalitarian, individualist) social relations studied most (but often called cultural biases)

17 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215217 Cultural Biases hierarchist superiors and subordinates authority obedience e.g., military, scientists vs laypeople egalitarian diminish difference (e.g., gender, race, wealth) everybody has “authority” e.g., the “Borg”

18 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215218 Cultural Biases individualist emphasize freedom, choice competition self regulation minimize “constraints” (i.e., anti hierarchist in this respect) “Mavericks”

19 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215219 Measuring Cultural Biases hierarchy index patriotism: “I’m for my country, right or wrong” law and order: “The police should have the right to listen in on private telephone conversations when in investigating crime” ethical standards: “I think I am stricter about right and wrong than most people” centralized government: “Centralization is one of the things that makes a country great.”

20 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215220 Measuring Cultural Biases individualism index primacy of individuals: “Most of what I value in life is achieved through my own efforts; my community and the place I live in contribute little.” free market paramount: “The welfare state tends to destroy individual initiative” individual effort rewarded: “If a person has the vision and ability to acquire property, s/he ought to be allowed to enjoy it him/herself”

21 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215221 Measuring Cultural Biases egalitarianism index redistribute resources: “Much of the conflict in this world could be eliminated if we had more equal distribution of resources among nations.” government intervention: “I support a tax shift so that the burden falls more heavily on corporations and persons with large incomes.” anti-institutionalized inequality: “The human goals of sharing and brotherhood are being hindered by current big institutions”

22 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215222 Discussion Which theory do you think is the single best explanation of variation in hazard risk perception (i.e., why some hazards evoke high concern in some people but not others). Why?

23 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215223 Results Re: 25 Technological Hazards 134 San Francisco residents intensive telephone surveys knowledge inconsistent or weak: greater knowledge = greater perceived benefit and lower perceived threat (relationship often weak or statistically insignificant)

24 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215224 Results Re: 25 Technological Hazards personality consistent: –hazard averse = less aggressive, less autonomous, more conciliatory, more obedient (see hierarchism) –hazard indifferent = more exhibitionist, more autonomous, less deferent (see egalitarianism and individualism) no theory to explain this consistent with social relations categories (see above, see cultural theory)

25 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215225 economic inconsistent: neither high income nor low income groups perceived hazards as threatening Results Re: 25 Technological Hazards

26 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215226 Results Re: 25 Technological Hazards political consistent: liberals, on self-rated liberal-conservative scale, more likely see hazards as threatening political types also correlated with social relations categories –liberal 0.50 with egalitarianism -0.55 with hierarchism, and -0.37 with individualism –republican 0.31 hierarchism, and 0.40 with individualism and -0.45 with egalitarianism

27 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215227 Results Re: 25 Technological Hazards cultural (social relations) consistent (in expected directions) all below are statistically significant “grave problem” “risk worth taking” perceived benefit egalitarianism # 0.51-0.42-ve* hierarchism0.430.37 individualism0.320.34 # correlation coefficients – vary between -1 and 1. 0 = no correlation * value unspecified

28 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215228 Summary of Findings cultural theory = best single explanation: since social relations are correlated with political and personality (Wildavsky and Dake) BUT – recent studies show cultural bias is a significant but weak predictor or risk perception (a measurement issue?) theoryresult knowledgeinconsistent personalityconsistent economicinconsistent politicalconsistent culturalconsistent

29 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215229 More Social Context Social Conflict over Hazards worldviews (cultural biases), especially when they clash (conflict) = entrenchment can “trump” seemingly straightforward technical “facts” e.g., Sabatier and Hunter (1989): present info - wealth of scientific evidence shows 15 year decline in water clarity: –environmentalists believe data –economic growth advocates did not Source:

30 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215230 More Social Context Trust in Institutions how people perceive institutions is also involved (but linked to cultural bias) e.g., Bord and OConnor (1991): perceived risk of food irradiation correlated with trust in food industry and scientists “trust” effect replicated in several studies source: http://www.thismodernworld.org

31 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215231 Role for Dread Uncertainty etc? recall that characteristics of hazards also determine risk concern e.g., dread, uncertainty, controllability e.g., cultural biases may predict dread etc. (sample size too small to test) cultural bias perceived hazard characteristics perceived risk

32 11/04/08 12:15Geog 215232 Implications Question: What does all this mean for say, hazard risk management, and hazard risk communication?

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