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Perception of Mobile Phone and Base Station Risks


  • Michael Siegrist
  • Timothy C. Earle
  • Heinz Gutscher
  • Carmen Keller


Perceptions of risks associated with mobile phones, base stations, and other sources of electromagnetic fields (EMF) were examined. Data from a telephone survey conducted in the German†and French†speaking parts of Switzerland are presented (N= 1,015). Participants assessed both risks and benefits associated with nine different sources of EMF. Trust in the authorities regulating these hazards was assessed as well. In addition, participants answered a set of questions related to attitudes toward EMF and toward mobile phone base stations. According to respondents' assessments, high†voltage transmission lines are the most risky source of EMF. Mobile phones and mobile phone base stations received lower risk ratings. Results showed that trust in authorities was positively associated with perceived benefits and negatively associated with perceived risks. People who use their mobile phones frequently perceived lower risks and higher benefits than people who use their mobile phones infrequently. People who believed they lived close to a base station did not significantly differ in their level of risks associated with mobile phone base stations from people who did not believe they lived close to a base station. Regarding risk regulation, a majority of participants were in favor of fixing limiting values based on the worst†case scenario. Correlations suggest that belief in paranormal phenomena is related to level of perceived risks associated with EMF. Furthermore, people who believed that most chemical substances cause cancer also worried more about EMF than people who did not believe that chemical substances are that harmful. Practical implications of the results are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Siegrist & Timothy C. Earle & Heinz Gutscher & Carmen Keller, 2005. "Perception of Mobile Phone and Base Station Risks," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 25(5), pages 1253-1264, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:riskan:v:25:y:2005:i:5:p:1253-1264
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2005.00672.x

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    Cited by:

    1. Julie Olivero, 2010. "De la perception du risque de l’entreprise à sa représentation, et impact sur la gestion des risques industrialo-environnementaux (RIE) : proposition d’un modèle qualitatif à variables conceptuelles," Working Papers hal-02274965, HAL.
    2. Silvia Banfi & Massimo Filippini & Andrea Horehájová, 2008. "Valuation of Environmental Goods in Profit and Non-Profit Housing Sectors: Evidence from the Rental Market in the City of Zurich," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 144(IV), pages 631-654, December.
    3. Wadley, David A. & Han, Jung Hoon & Elliott, Peter G., 2019. "Risk hidden in plain sight: Explaining homeowner perceptions of electricity transmission infrastructure," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 744-753.
    4. Silvia Banfi & Massimo Filippini & Andrea Horehájová, 2012. "Using a choice experiment to estimate the benefits of a reduction of externalities in urban areas with special focus on electrosmog," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(3), pages 387-397, January.
    5. Simone Dohle & Carmen Keller & Michael Siegrist, 2012. "Fear and anger: antecedents and consequences of emotional responses to mobile communication," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(4), pages 435-446, April.
    6. Julie Olivero & Pierre Batteau, 2012. "Les risques industrialo-environnementaux perçus par les entreprises et impacts sur les décisions en matière de gestion. Etude exploratoire sur les bassins industriels de Gardanne et de Fos-Berre," Post-Print hal-02274494, HAL.

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