Risk perception includes individual beliefs and thoughts


What is considered to be an objective risk or objective risk source may vary in different cultures, i.e. the probability for particular incidents (e.g. floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, etc.) to occur is higher in some parts of the world than in others (Holtgrave & Weber, 1993). But, even if the objective probability of an event is small, that does not prevent people from being fearful. In other words, since risk perception includes individual beliefs and thoughts (Sjöberg, 1979), the level of perceived risk often differs from the objective estimations (Boholm, 1996). The notion that risks are socially and culturally constructed does not make them less real. But it does mean “that they can be magnified and dramatized in the public imagination, as projections of a structure of personal anxieties put in place by the new uncertainties of social life” (Garland, 2003, p. 78). Furthermore, as Garland argues, our perceptions of risks and our responses to risks frequently intensify each other.

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