High Risk Perceptions

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There has been some speculation about what causes risk perception in regard to low probability, high risk events. There are many individual difference factors in particular that can go into how risk is perceived. Race, age, gender, geological features, religion, and personal upbringing can all influence an individual’s perception of risk (Slimak, 2006) Sudden and devastating events, such as natural disasters and terrorism, are not typically thought about on a daily basis. Even so, they will and do happen when it is least expected. Misperceptions and perceptions of low probability, high risk events directly affect the preparedness of entire cities and countries (Slovic, 2002). Identifying the primary causes of what makes an individual’s level…show more content…
Risk can be perceived as a hazard, a probability, a consequence, or a threat. There is also no real level of risk that can be accurately measured. Every hazardous event that occurs, whether it be an earthquake or a plane crash, are only predicted through theoretical models (Slovic, 2002). These many definitions can be confusing when it comes to assessing the consequences hazardous events, and the nonexistence of an accurate way to measure risk leads to many individual differences and different perceptions of what is really risky. It does not help that humans have a tendency to perceive events that they know very little about with their “System 1” method of decision making (Slimak, 2006). It is difficult to measure how an individual perceives the risk of a potentially fatal tornado when they have never experienced one. Consequently, system 1 activates, causing heuristics and personal beliefs to heavily influence individual perceptions of risk. Observing the interactions between several different individual characteristics seems to help in determining how different individuals perceive…show more content…
Based on the theory of temporal discounting (Camerer et al., 1989), individuals tend to perceive short-term consequences as more severe than long-term consequences. It is shown in research that younger people tend to be more risk seeking and do not take low probability events as hazardous (Savage, 1993), while older individuals view hazardous events to be more salient in present day. (Slimak, 2006). In other words, young individuals do not seem to be concerned with immediate consequences while seniors tend to be concerned with sudden, high impact events. This theory could be due to young adults looking to the future, while seniors have been through multiple high stress situations in their
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