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Meeting Three Challenges in Risk Communication

Rakow, Tim and Heard, Claire L and Newell, Ben R (2015) 'Meeting Three Challenges in Risk Communication.' Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2 (1). pp. 147-156. ISSN 2372-7322

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<jats:p> Risk communication takes many forms, can serve a number of different purposes, and can inform people about a wide variety of risks. We outline three challenges that must often be met when communicating about risk, irrespective of the form or purpose of that communication, or the type of risk that this involves. The first challenge is how best to help people understand the phenomenology of the risks that they are exposed to: The nature of the risk, the mechanism(s) by which they arise, and, therefore, what can be done to manage these risks. Each risk has its own phenomenology; therefore, rather than offering generic guidance, we illustrate with the case of climate change risk how evidence from behavioral science can guide the design of messages about risk. The second challenge is how best to present quantitative risk information about risk probabilities. Here, there is potential for: Ambiguity, difficulty in evaluating quantitative information, and weak numeracy skills among those being targeted by a message. We outline when each of these difficulties is most likely to arise as a function of the precision of the message and show how messages that cover multiple levels of precision might ameliorate these difficulties. The third challenge is the role played by people’s emotional reactions to the risks that they face and to the messages that they receive about these risks. Here, we discuss the pros and cons of playing up, or playing down, the emotional content of risk communication messages. </jats:p>

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: risk; risk communication; numeracy; emotions; climate change
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2015 14:40
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2022 00:32

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