The difference in perceptions of risk between experts and non-experts is merely quantitative not qualitative


Although the effect of expertise on risk assessment is evident, it is limited to the very narrow area of expertise. For example, in a study by Sjöberg and Drottz-Sjöberg (1994) a group of experts on nuclear waste and ionizing radiation judged the risk of all hazards related to the nuclear technology as low, which was expected. However, surprisingly, the experts saw the risk of radon gas (which is also a type of radiation risk) as high as the public saw it. Furthermore, as previously presented, it turns out that the structure of experts' risk perceptions itself is not different from the pattern of risk perception dimensions found in the general public, i.e. it seems that the very same dimensions explain risk perception in both experts and non-experts (Sjöberg, 2002; Sjöberg, 2004). Although expertise leads to the more objective (i.e. lower, in most cases) estimation of risk of particular adverse events, the difference in risk perceptions between experts and non-experts seems to be merely quantitative, not qualitative, and limited to the area of expertise. In the domains outside of the primary expertise, experts are also subject to psychological factors such as fear and uncontrollability like the general public.

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