What is it about?

How do we all perceive risk? A particular person's view and interpersonal communication about a risk event, such as disasters or their aftermath, are known as risk talk. This can play a significant role in the formation of societal responses to risk events. As people formulate their risk opinions and speak to others, risk information can circulate through their social networks and contribute to the construction of their risk information environment.

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Why is it important?

To study risk perception and risk talk, we analyzed risk talk and its effects on risk perception of Japanese citizens, in the context of the Fukushima nuclear radiation crisis. We hypothesized that the risk information environment, ie the public distribution of risk opinions, and risk literacy -- the ability to understand and use risk information -- interact to influence a person's risk perception and talk. After conducting our survey, we found that the better informed an individual is, the more willing that person is to communicate radiation risk to partners or acquaintances. In particular, risk literacy tends to stabilize an individual's risk perceptions and willingness to communicate the risk. Nevertheless, there were some subtle differences between perception and communication, suggesting the importance of further examination of interpersonal risk communication and its role in the societal responses to risk events.


It is conceivable that risk literacy may facilitate a change in risk perception and behavior under other circumstances. Investigating under what circumstances risk literacy stabilizes or destabilizes risk perceptions may be a useful topic for future study.

Professor Takashi Kusumi
Kyoto Daigaku

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Risk Perception and Risk Talk: The Case of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Radiation Risk, Risk Analysis, June 2017, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1111/risa.12784.
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