Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Risk perception, emotion and policy: the case of nuclear technology

Contents:

Author Info

  • SJ BERG, LENNART
Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    This paper addresses the general question of the role of emotions in risk management, with an application to the siting of a repository for spent nuclear fuel. Although it is true that such siting has been very difficult to carry out without meeting with strong local opposition, there are some exceptions in recent Swedish experience. This recent experience constitutes an occasion for reconsidering the received message from risk perception research since the 1970s. This research has purportedly demonstrated a very strong impact of emotional processes on risk attitudes, which in turn is supposed to imply that these attitudes are rigid and unchangeable. However, when this assertion is looked at more closely, it is found that a number of questionable assumptions and overly strong generalizations have been made. The central role played by the concept of dread is particularly important. Dread, or a gut reaction , is by no means demonstrated in the traditional selection of hazard attributes, which contain such dimensions as concern for future generations or voluntariness. Such dimensions may have a relationship to emotional processes but they are not emotional per se and their emotional significance remains to be documented. The items that do measure emotional reactions directly, by asking about fear and anxiety, are found in data on nuclear waste repository siting to have only a weak influence on policy attitudes. The most important weight is instead carried by items measuring the expected severity of consequences . The argument is, in a concluding section, carried to the level of attitudes to technologies, which may or may not be related to perceived risk. It is found that an important role is played by substitutability of a technology. If people see no good substitute for a technology that has important benefits, they are ready to accept the risks. The current situation in Sweden with regard to nuclear power can be understood in this light, since no realistic alternatives are available.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL: http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S1062798703000127
    File Function: link to article abstract page
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal European Review.

    Volume (Year): 11 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 01 (February)
    Pages: 109-128

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:cup:eurrev:v:11:y:2003:i:01:p:109-128_00

    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: The Edinburgh Building, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge CB2 2RU UK
    Fax: +44 (0)1223 325150
    Web page: http://journals.cambridge.org/jid_ERWProvider-Email:journals@cambridge.org

    Related research

    Keywords:

    References

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    Citations

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Technology Assessment

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cup:eurrev:v:11:y:2003:i:01:p:109-128_00. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Keith Waters).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.