How the Presence of a Risk Ladder, Time Interval Comparison, and Smoking Comparison Affect Risk Perception.
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH
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The objective of this study is to increase the knowledge available on the relative effectiveness of risk ladders as a presentation format for explaining risk magnitudes to the public. An experiment was conducted to test the hypotheses that an individuals risk perception varies with the presence of a risk ladder, time interval comparison, and smoking comparison. Subjects were AFIT Professional Continuing Education students, asked to assume a particular level of a health hazard in their homes, to read a brochure explaining the hazard, and then to complete a questionnaire. Results demonstrated that subjects exposed to a graphical risk ladder perceived lower levels of risk than subjects not exposed to a risk ladder. Also, the study found that time interval and smoking comparisons did not significantly affect the risk perception of the participants. These findings suggest that the discontinuity between expert views and the public perceptions of health risk can be bridged by effectively utilizing risk ladders when presenting risk magnitudes to the public.