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Can public information programs affect risk perceptions?

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Author Info

  • V. Kerry Smith

    (University Distinguished Professor at North Carolina State University and a Resource for the Future University Fellow)

  • William H. Desvousges

    (Senior Economist at Research Triangle Institute)

  • F. Reed Johnson

    (Professor of Economics at the U.S. Naval Academy)

  • Ann Fisher

    (Economist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Abstract

This article provides the first controlled evaluation of how different information materials explaining the risks from radon influenced people's perceptions of these risks. Using a panel study, it was possible to observe how stated risk perceptions responded to information about indoor radon concentrations and brochures explaining the radon readings. The findings indicate that risk communication policies can be effective in modifying risk perceptions. Moreover, they have three specific implications for radon policy: (1) Public officials should not adopt strategies that provide minimal risk information to the public as a means of avoiding undue alarm, for this can have the reverse effect; (2) measures of the effectiveness of risk communication will depend on how education and behavior change are defined; (3) categorical guidelines about risk without quantitative information can lead people to treat the levels as thresholds, creating an artificial discontinuity in their responses to small changes in risk perceptions.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.2307/3325112
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Volume (Year): 9 (1990)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 41-59

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Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:9:y:1990:i:1:p:41-59

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Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/34787/home

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  1. Jerry A. Hausman & David A. Wise, 1985. "Technical Problems in Social Experimentation: Cost versus Ease of Analysis," NBER Chapters, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, in: Social Experimentation, pages 187-220 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Viscusi, W Kip & O'Connor, Charles J, 1984. "Adaptive Responses to Chemical Labeling: Are Workers Bayesian Decision Makers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 942-56, December.
  3. Rosett, Richard N & Nelson, Forrest D, 1975. "Estimation of the Two-Limit Probit Regression Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 43(1), pages 141-46, January.
  4. Smith, V Kerry & Johnson, F Reed, 1988. "How Do Risk Perceptions Respond to Information? The Case of Radon," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(1), pages 1-8, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Gregory Poe & Richard Bishop, 1999. "Valuing the Incremental Benefits of Groundwater Protection when Exposure Levels are Known," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 13(3), pages 341-367, April.
  2. Collins, J. Michael & Simon, Kosali I. & Tennyson, Sharon, 2013. "Drug withdrawals and the utilization of therapeutic substitutes: The case of Vioxx," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 148-168.
  3. Robert S. Chirinko & Edward P. Harper, 1993. "Buckle up or slow down? New estimates of offsetting behavior and their implications for automobile safety regulation," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(2), pages 270-296.
  4. Zhang, Wei & Chow, Yimmy & Meara, Jill & Green, Martyn, 2011. "Evaluation and equity audit of the domestic radon programme in England," Health Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 102(1), pages 81-88, September.
  5. Georges Dionne & Claude Fluet & Denise Desjardins, 2006. "Perception of the Risks Associated with Impaired Driving and Effects on Driving Behavior," Cahiers de recherche, CIRPEE 0608, CIRPEE.
  6. Konstantinos Drakos & Cathérine Müller, 2010. "On the Determinants of Terrorism Risk Concern in Europe," Economics of Security Working Paper Series 36, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  7. Hoehn, John P. & Randall, Alan, 2002. "The effect of resource quality information on resource injury perceptions and contingent values," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 13-31, February.
  8. Ferraro, Paul J. & Miranda, Juan José, 2013. "Heterogeneous treatment effects and mechanisms in information-based environmental policies: Evidence from a large-scale field experiment," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 356-379.
  9. Trudy Cameron, 2005. "Updating Subjective Risks in the Presence of Conflicting Information: An Application to Climate Change," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 63-97, January.
  10. Jason Shogren & Thomas Crocker, 1991. "Cooperative and noncooperative protection against transferable and filterable externalities," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 1(2), pages 195-214, June.
  11. Georges Dionne & Claude Fluet & Denise Desjardins, 2007. "Predicted risk perception and risk-taking behavior: The case of impaired driving," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 237-264, December.
  12. Rekola, Mika & Pouta, Eija, 2005. "Public preferences for uncertain regeneration cuttings: a contingent valuation experiment involving Finnish private forests," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 635-649, May.
  13. Melkonyan, Tigran A., 2011. "The Effect of Communicating Ambiguous Risk Information on Choice," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 36(2), August.
  14. Poe, Gregory L. & Bishop, Richard C., 1992. "Prior Information, General Information, and Specific Information in the Contingent Valuation of Environmental Risks: The Case of Nitrates in Groundwater," Staff Papers, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management 121335, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  15. Peter J. May, 1991. "Addressing public risks: Federal earthquake policy design," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(2), pages 263-285.

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