Risk researchers say the answer lies in emotions, not reason, especially when the perceived risk is related to health, the environment, new technologies and energy. ‘There is a lot of evidence that concern about risk is directly related to lack of knowledge and the extent to which the event is dreaded,’ says Professor Peter Taylor-Gooby, Director of the Economic and Social Research Council Social Context and Responses to Risk Network (SCARR) at the University of Kent. ‘And trust always involves emotion as well as reason.’
‘The way that information about a particular risk is transmitted and interpreted by various audiences is also important in determining how people respond,’ Peter Taylor-Gooby explains. ‘Government should be certainly thinking about building trust, but it is very difficult to do. People need to feel they are being taken seriously and it would help if there was more reporting back after public consultations. Transparency is the key, particularly when mistakes have been made.’
How people handle uncertainties – in relation to topics including unemployment, pensions, GM foods, health care and nuclear power – is the subject of an event to be held at the University of East Anglia on September 7th. Researchers from a number of social science disciplines will present their latest findings at the Coping with Uncertainty event in Norwich during the British Academy Festival of Science.
‘Every day we probably take some routine risks without thinking – like driving to work or taking an escalator – but we also have to take serious decisions about jobs, marriage or buying a car without enough information and certainty to make a rational choice,’ says Dr Jens Zinn, from University of Kent, who has been studying the way in which people draw on emotion, intuition, trust or rules of thumb when making decisions. ‘Strategies in between pure rationality and blind faith or hope become more and more important in a world with growing uncertainties,’ he says.
Media scare stories about all kinds of threats, from the Millennium bug and bird flu, to the dangers to health of mobile phones and GM foods, have been blamed for making people more fearful of technological innovations and less trusting of scientists and government. Researchers Jenny Kitzinger and Emma Hughes, University of Cardiff, have analysed British media coverage of ‘risk’ in relation to the debates on genetically modified crops and human genetic research. They will tell the meeting that journalists did not cover the stories as a purely scientific issue, but drew on a plethora of social and cultural factors, such as concepts of nationality, nature and purity, to describe potential risks.
In his presentation, Professor Nick Pidgeon, Cardiff University, will describe how people deal with the risks associated with living close to a nuclear power station. The findings are based on ‘personal risk biographies’ covering people’s feelings about nuclear risks, the trade-offs between risks and various monetary and non-monetary benefits and the way in which the perception of risk changes as it becomes a familiar part of daily life.
Annika Howard | alfa
Sibling differences: Later-borns choose less prestigious programs at university
14.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung
Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ
09.11.2017 | Vanderbilt University
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses