Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Don't rely on cold reason - trust your intuition as well

04.09.2006
Risk and uncertainty are part of modern life, but why does the possibility of terrorist bombs on aeroplanes, a new generation of nuclear power stations and a flu pandemic trigger public distrust in the powers-that-be? What can the government do to re-build trust in politicians and scientists?

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
Further information:
http://www.esrc.ac.uk

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>