RISK PERCEPTION AND ANALYSIS
RISK PERCEPTION AND ANALYSIS
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- Chapter one of Accident Analysis and Risk Control discusses the historical perspective on the study of risk. In earlier times, supernatural forces were believed to cause all unexplainable phenomena including injuries and diseases (Viner 1991, p. 2). As times progressed, various studies sought to explain and analyze causes of accidents and injuries. Most notable is Heinrich’s work claiming that accidents are unplanned and uncontrolled and that an unsafe environment exists (p. 10). In the modern era, conceptual developments from psychology, medicine, and engineering sought to explain occurrence of accidents and diseases (p. 11).
Chapter two explores the application of scientific research in risk and accidents studies. The process starts with observation of the phenomenon, followed by measurement that describes the phenomenon’s features (p. 21), and then formulation of hypothesis (p. 22). Applying this to the field, objectivity is needed in searching for the cause of accident (p. 49), taking into consideration the concepts of unsafe act and condition. Furthermore, people have held that accidents are caused; hence, these causes need to be known and eliminated. This mentality though should be resisted since classifying accidents means classifying causes, which is problematic (pp. 50-51).
Chapter three analyses accidents, discussing various models such as the Cause-Effect (an injury event happens as an effect of a cause); the Psychological Models that employs the perceptual tasks of perception, cognition, and effector output like the Task-Demand Model (a task enforces demand for one to perform competently), Surry Model (danger builds up and imminent danger exists in the application of mental processes), Corlett and Gilbank Model (details the brain’s information processing and decision-making when confronted with accidents); and Wiggleworth’s Error Model (highlights human error); the Energy-Based Models like Gibbson and Haddon (certain energy or danger can be a source of injury); and the Uncertainty and Probability Models such as Rowe’s Risk Estimation Model (risk is the realisation of undesirable consequences of an event).
- Perception of Risk examines different perceptions on risks based on existing research. Slovic introduced the topic claiming that survival has caused humans to change and respond to their environment. Such ability creates and lessens risk. An example of this is the perceived damages attached to chemical and nuclear technology. Because of this, analyzing and managing qualities of current hazards has forced the creation of risk assessment. Experts have relied on this discipline while lay people have depended on risk perceptions (1987, p. 280).
Slovic moves on to discuss that people’s risk perceptions have been influenced by research in geography, sociology, anthropology, political science, and psychology. Nonetheless, to understand people’s indifference towards hazards and inconsistencies of their perceptions to experts’ opinion, the psychometric diagram has been employed. The purpose is to elicit people’s quantitative judgment on current and desired riskiness of hazards and their desired regulation levels. Furthermore, the psychometric diagram has been based on risk-benefit trade-offs or the balance between potential risks and perceived benefits. Studies revealed that lay people related risk with catastrophic potentials and threats to future generations while experts linked risk with technical estimates of annual fatalities (pp. 281-83). Also, studies show that some activities have higher unacceptable current risk levels than others. Meanwhile, factor analysis, a qualitative examination of risk characteristics, reveals that perceptions can be condensed into three factors, namely, dread risk, unknown risk, and number of people exposed to the risk. Furthermore, while some events create small ripples, others leave large ripples. In such cases, risk analysis need to go beyond the cost-benefit examination and analyze higher order impacts (pp. 283-4).
Moreover, studies on risk have been utilized in gauging the acceptability of new technology. For instance, people have been unfavourable on nuclear technology even if experts highlight its benefits. Hence, placing risks in proper perspective is necessary. As Slovic concluded, both the public and experts need to work together as lay people should be educated properly about hazards while experts need to consider people’s legitimate concerns and perceptions on risk (p. 285).
- William Clark puts risk management in historical perspective, analyzing the cases of witches, floods, and drugs.
During the Renaissance and Reformation periods, the Church, which had authority and power, blamed witches for all unfortunate events of that time. The Inquisition was set out to hunt and punish them as they were believed to be evil (Clark, 1980, p. 289). Comparing this to contemporary society, any new or modern concept, idea, or technology, take for instance scientific advancement, is being persecuted in the media, courtrooms, and other discourses. Hence, people remain cynical of the risks attached to science (p. 294).
In addition, Clark discussed resource management in answer to risks encountered. In the incidents of flooding, pests, and diseases, management efforts have altered the risks encountered but not the very fact of risk. As such, people’s experiences have also shifted from dealing with risks they know about into ones they have not experienced before. Therefore, Clark suggested that applying mere knowledge and control are insufficient and instead designing schemes to address the failures that are guaranteed by people’s ignorance and the resource system’s invariability (pp. 295-9).
Another case mentioned was drug safety and regulation. To manage this, animal testing and other screenings have been carried out. Nonetheless, studies on the kinds of risks these testing catch and those they fail to consider need to be designed. The results of these can be incorporated in risk management strategies to address problematic safety regulations (pp. 299-302).
Through all these cases, people’s response to risk or to the unknown has always been to avoid, understand, or control it (p. 303). This kind of risk management is problematic and does not eliminate the risk per se. Hence, Clark concluded that since people’s ignorance will always be greater than their knowledge, designing adaptive measures about what is already learned is therefore inevitable (p. 310).
For the keyword risk management, the first two pages of turnout were characterised by scholarly written materials on the said topic’s application in the fields of engineering, investment and finance, and software. Majority of these are journal articles and books written by professionals in the fields mentioned. Moreover, for the keyword risk perception, the turnout are characterised by articles on psychology, communication, culture, theories, gender, and breast cancer and women. Majority of these are journal articles written by researchers and experts in the aforementioned fields. Finally, for the keyword risk control, the turnouts were medical journals tackling various sicknesses and diseases as researched by doctors and experts in health and medicine.
Clark, WC 1980, ‘Witches, drugs, and wonder drugs: Historical perspectives on risk management,’ in RC Schwing and WA Albers, Jr. (eds.), Societal Risk Assessment: How safe is safe enough, Planum Press, New York, pp. 287-313.
Google 2101, Risk control, Google scholar, viewed 24 August 2010, http://scholar.google.com.ph/scholar?hl=tl&q=risk+control&btnG=Hanapin&as_ylo=&as_vis=0
Google 2101, Risk perception, Google scholar, viewed 24 August 2010, http://scholar.google.com.ph/scholar?hl=tl&q=risk+perception&btnG=Hanapin&as_ylo=&as_vis=0
Google 2010, Risk management, Google scholar, viewed 23 August 2010, http://scholar.google.com.ph/scholar?hl=tl&q=risk+management&btnG=Hanapin&as_ylo=&as_vis=0
Slovic, P 1987, ‘Perception of risk,’ Science, vol. 236, no. 4799 , pp. 280-285.
Viner, D 1991, Accident analysis and risk control, Derek Viner Pty Ltd, India.