The dynamics of risk perception: How does perceived risk respond to risk events? Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper examines the relationship between perceived risk and experience. This research addresses the processes by which people learn about risk and choose among real life prospects with associated uncertainties, risks and benefits. By comparing the impact of acute risk events with that of chronic risk events on public perception of risk during and after the events, this research focuses on the learning processes that characterize what kinds of risk events alter the perception of risk. Comparing materialized hazards at existing facilities with the risks associated with potential facilities, this research addresses risk choices among real life prospects. This study uses a classic pre-post quasi-experimental design. Surveys conducted in the Spring of 1992 on perceived and acceptable risk in Odessa and La Porte, Texas were conducted prior to risk events. Respondents from that survey were re- interviewed in the Spring of 1993 after the risk events to form a panel design. This paper analyzes the affect of risk events on perceived risk and the implications of these experiences for public policy concerning technological risk. The empirical results suggest that the social processes that construct and maintain risk in the public eye are at least as important as, if not more important than, the physical and psychological dimensions of risk.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Rogers, G. O.

citation count

  • 66

complete list of authors

  • Rogers, GO

publication date

  • December 1997