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Can public information programs affect risk perceptions?

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • V. Kerry Smith & William H. Desvousges & F. Reed Johnson & Ann Fisher, 1990. "Can public information programs affect risk perceptions?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(1), pages 41-59.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:9:y:1990:i:1:p:41-59
    DOI: 10.2307/3325112
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.2307/3325112
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Viscusi, W Kip & O'Connor, Charles J, 1984. "Adaptive Responses to Chemical Labeling: Are Workers Bayesian Decision Makers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 942-956, December.
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    3. 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.
    4. Rosett, Richard N & Nelson, Forrest D, 1975. "Estimation of the Two-Limit Probit Regression Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 43(1), pages 141-146, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rekola, Mika & Pouta, Eija, 2005. "Public preferences for uncertain regeneration cuttings: a contingent valuation experiment involving Finnish private forests," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 635-649, May.
    2. Gregory Poe & Richard Bishop, 1999. "Valuing the Incremental Benefits of Groundwater Protection when Exposure Levels are Known," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 13(3), pages 341-367, April.
    3. Dennis Guignet & Rachel Northcutt & Patrick J. Walsh, 2015. "The Property Value Impacts of Groundwater Contamination: Agricultural Runoff and Private Wells," NCEE Working Paper Series 201505, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Nov 2015.
    4. 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., vol. 12(2), pages 270-296.
    5. Jason Shogren & Thomas Crocker, 1991. "Cooperative and noncooperative protection against transferable and filterable externalities," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 1(2), pages 195-214, June.
    6. 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, vol. 35(3), pages 237-264, December.
    7. Georges Dionne & Claude Fluet & Denise Desjardins, 2006. "Perception of the Risks Associated with Impaired Driving and Effects on Driving Behavior," Cahiers de recherche 0608, CIRPEE.
    8. Coskeran, Thomas & Denman, Antony & Phillips, Paul, 2001. "The costs of radon mitigation in domestic properties," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 97-109, August.
    9. 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 121335, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    10. 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, vol. 86(C), pages 148-168.
    11. Trudy Cameron, 2005. "Updating Subjective Risks in the Presence of Conflicting Information: An Application to Climate Change," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 63-97, January.
    12. Konstantinos Drakos & Catherine Mueller, 2014. "On the Determinants of Terrorism Risk Concern in Europe," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(3), pages 291-310, June.
    13. Zhang, Wei & Chow, Yimmy & Meara, Jill & Green, Martyn, 2011. "Evaluation and equity audit of the domestic radon programme in England," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(1), pages 81-88, September.
    14. Peter J. May, 1991. "Addressing public risks: Federal earthquake policy design," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(2), pages 263-285.
    15. Guignet, Dennis, 2012. "The impacts of pollution and exposure pathways on home values: A stated preference analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 53-63.
    16. 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, vol. 35(3), pages 356-379.
    17. Hoehn, John P. & Randall, Alan, 2002. "The effect of resource quality information on resource injury perceptions and contingent values," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 13-31, February.
    18. Melkonyan, Tigran A., 2011. "The Effect of Communicating Ambiguous Risk Information on Choice," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 36(2), August.

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