Presentation by outside presenter

Presentation by outside presenter

Addressing the Challenges of Environmental Risk William Rish, Ph.D. Communication Hull Risk Analysis Center ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGES OF ENVIRONMENTAL RISK COMMUNICATION ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Tim Bingman Dupont Granger Morgan Carnegie-Mellon University Paul Slovic Decision Research Peter Sandman former Rutgers University now consulting RISK COMMUNICATION IS.... Meaningful interactions in which knowledge, experience, perceptions, values, and concerns

about risks are exchanged among different stakeholders, So they can put the risk in perspective and make more informed choices and decisions. RISK COMMUNICATION IS NOT... Trying to get people to understand the facts in order to get them to behave rationally,

An expert standing in front of the public and "teaching" them about risks. THE LANGUAGE OF RISK Derivation Derivation of the word risk: From the early Italian risicare, which means to dare Risk was seen as a choice rather than a fate Taking action in the face of uncertainty Outcome could be good or bad

But Watch Out! and Stop worrying were probably the first phrases used in the language of risk, and assume: The source of the warning/reassurance knows more about the risk than the audience The source is concerned about the best interest of the audience The warnings/information are based on actual THE LANGUAGE OF RISK What is risk? It depends on your perspective. Technical perspective risk is a measurable probability of harm: Probability x Consequence 10-6 increase in probability of cancer over a lifetime

Under this view, the necessary conditions for risk are: Presence of a source of risk, A way to be exposed to the source of risk, A mechanism by which the exposure can cause harm (causality) Some take the position that this technical SOME PRESENT RISK AS A SIGNIFICANT STATISTICAL CORRELATION BETWEEN A HAZARD AND AN OBSERVED HARM

THE LANGUAGE OF RISK What is risk? Alternative views Society for Risk Analysis definition: Risk is uncertainty about the consequences of an activity with respect to something valued Risks are real to a person when they have sufficient reason to suspect the presence of a cause that may result in harm to something that they value Common problem the quantitative risk measure alone does not reflect values THE LANGUAGE OF RISK Impact of description of risk

Further how quantitative risk is described can affect perception: Chemicals of concern are below detection limits Chemicals of concern are below standards The risk doubled Excess lifetime cancer risk is 10-6 The risk is less than that of being struck by lightning Based on the risk assessment, chemicals of concern may cause 10 cancers in the population of 100,000 people near the site THE LANGUAGE OF RISK Wikipedia contributors. "California Proposition 65 (1986)." Wikipedia, The Free

Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 29 Jan. 2016. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. We warned you now you decide. THE LANGUAGE OF RISK Source: Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992; Government of Canada; Marine Pollutant Mark UNCLEAR Source: NOAA UNCERTAINTY Source: USGS


ASPECTS OF RISK PERCEPTION AND ACCEPTANCE Risk communication will fail if it doesnt take into account the biological, psychological, and social basis for peoples perception and acceptance of risk Facts can be helpless when up against perception The model of scientific expert standing in front of the public and "teaching" them about risks has been regularly demonstrated to fail and lead to

frustration by all stakeholders THE BIOLOGICAL BASIS OF IRRATIONAL RISK PERCEPTION Its in our DNA survive and reproduce Only organisms that can recognize and respond to danger survive We have a brain that is biologically constructed to fear first, and think second

WE ARE HARDWIRED FOR FEAR We are hardwired for fear The Amygdala: Modulates all of our reactions to events that are very important for our survival Processes input to warn us of imminent danger, the presence of food, sexual partners, rivals, children in distress, and so on SURVIVAL IS A POWERFUL GENETIC IMPERATIVE We have developed to be able to recognize and respond to danger, very quickly, in order to protect

ourselves Using whatever tools we have, in order to survive, is absolutely rational behavior PSYCHOLOGY OF RISK PERCEPTION RISK = function technically assessed risk and risk perception factors Risk=function{technically assessed risk and risk perception factors} RISK PERCEPTION FACTORS = OUTRAGE FACTORS = HOT BUTTONS


Dreaded Not dreaded Catastrophic Constant Uncertain/Complex Knowable/Familiar Controlled by others Individually controlled Unfair Fair Untrustworthy sources Trustworthy sources Impacts Adults Impacts Children High media attention Low media attention HOT BUTTONS

EXAMPLE UNCERTAINTY Easy to Understand vs. Complicated/Scientist Disagree Safer vs. Riskier Genetically modified foods are perceived as riskier than living downstream of a dam. EXAMPLE VOLUNTARY VS. INVOLUNTARY Voluntary

More acceptable acceptable Involuntary Less Ironically, voluntary risks such as smoking and poor diet are leading causes of health impacts Much higher risks than cleaned-up Brownfield sites EXAMPLE CONTROL Controlled by me Controlled by others Safer Most (85%) people believe that they are better

than average drivers Riskier So long as I have some control, the risks are more acceptable Could it be about control? LEADING RISK FACTORS (WHO 2009) 1 DALY = 1 lost year of healthy life EXAMPLE CHILDREN VS. ADULTS Impact Affects Adults vs.

Impact Affects Children or Future Generations Safer/More Acceptable Riskier/Unacceptable vs.

Natural to be protective of children Often used by special interest groups USEPA has focus on childrens risk Examples vaccination; deep injection of hazardous waste Natural to be protective of children Often used by special interest groups USEPA has focus on childrens risk Examples vaccination; deep injection of hazardous waste SOURCE - trust is easier to destroy than to create - trust is created slowly but destroyed quickly Trustworthy Source

vs. Untrustworthy Source Safer Riskier vs. Industry and regulatory agencies are in the bottom third of the trust and credibility hierarchy. Public health officials and medical doctors are in the top third. Trust has to be built in same way as any relationship. EXAMPLE FAIRNESS Fair vs.

Unfair More Accepted Less Accepted vs. We have to bear the risks while someone else gets the benefits. We have an unfair share of the risks. Example: Pipelines and Environmental Justice sites SOCIAL FACTORS IN RISK ACCEPTANCE Social viewpoints can affect risk acceptance and concerns

Hierarchical Decisions about risk should be left to the experts. Hot Button? Egalitarian A risk to one is a risk to all. Hot Button? without regard to Risks should be managed cost. SOCIAL FACTORS IN RISK ACCEPTANCE

Social viewpoints can affect risk acceptance and concerns Individualist I dont need or want the government to decide what is acceptable risk for me. Hot Button? Fatalist If I am meant get cancer then I will.

Hotto Button? SOME GENERAL FINDINGS Science and public education are important but not adequate to resolving risk controversies The public is not irrational

The public is influenced by biology, psychology, emotion, life experiences, worldviews, and values So are regulated parties, scientists, and regulators HOW CAN WE IMPROVE RISK COMMUNICATION? PARADIGM SHIFT Must change from educating the public with the facts to Dialogue in which knowledge, experience,

perceptions, values, and concerns about risks are exchanged among different stakeholders. Dialogue involves good listening, mutual respect, and conversation rather than presentation. HOW CAN WE IMPROVE RISK COMMUNICATION? Many have complained that their input is after key decisions have already been made Often controversies over risk are surrogates for concern over trust in the process

People want to be included in the process of making risk management decisions that they feel affect what they value The final decision about managing risk will always disappoint someone but they may be able to accept the decision if their concerns and values were included in the evaluation process GENERAL RISK COMMUNICATION GUIDELINES

Accept and include the public as a legitimate partner Frame the risk problem, with public participation: Determine how they see something they value is threatened Make sure you understand their concerns and values Be prepared what they fear may not match technically assessed risks Respect and never diminish their concerns and values Make it a dialogue, not a lecture

GENERAL RISK COMMUNICATION GUIDELINES Address psychological risk perception (hot button) factors directly Avoid inappropriate comparisons (less than lightning strike) Be honest and compassionate

Explain how their input will be used and follow-up Discuss risk management options and how these may address their concerns QUESTIONS William Rish, Ph.D. Principal Hull Risk Analysis Center [email protected] om


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