How Location and an Action Standard on a Risk Ladder Affect Perceived Risk.
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH
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Efforts to explain risk magnitudes often rely on a risk ladder in which exposure levels and associated risk estimates are arranged with low levels at the bottom of the ladder and high levels at the top. An experiment was conducted to test the hypotheses that perceived threat varies with the location of a subjects assigned level on the risk ladder, and that perceived threat varies with the presence of an action standard on the risk ladder. Air Force Institute of Technology Professional Continuing Education students were asked to assume a particular level of a hypothetical hazard in their residences, to read a brochure explaining the risks, and then to complete a questionnaire. The study found that subjects with an assigned risk level three-quarters of the way up the ladder perceived higher levels of risk than subjects with an assigned risk level one-quarter of the way up the ladder. The study also found that the presence of an action standard on a ladder may significantly affect perceived risk. Subjects who received a risk ladder without an action standard perceived a higher level of risk than subjects who received a risk ladder with an action standard placed above assigned risk level. These findings suggest that risk response can be shaped by effectively presented data alone.
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