Factors Hypothesized as Important in Understanding Risk
The following is a list of some characteristics of hazards that have been hypothesized as important in understanding risk. They were compiled from the following sources: Lowrance (1976); Rowe (1977); Vlek and Stallen (1980); Hohenemser et al. (1983); Litai et al. (1983); Slovic et al. (1984), Jenni (1997).
Ability to contain adverse effects
Ambiguity about probability of harm
Ambiguity about severity of effects
Availability of options or alternatives
Caused by humans
Common vs dreaded hazards
Confidence in decision-making strategies
Confidence in experts or regulators
Continuous vs occasional exposure
Delay or timing of effects
Distribution of effects (general population vs sensitive groups)
Ease of change or correction
Ease of escape from harm
Familiarity vs Newness
Frequency of accidents
Importance of intended benefits (for example, necessity vs luxury)
Knowledge about risks and benefits
Natural vs manmade causes
Number of people affected
Occupational vs nonoccupational exposure
Personal awareness of risk or danger
Personal experience and knowledge
Personal influence or responsibility
Possibility of error
Probability or frequency of adverse events or effects
Reversibility of effects
Severity of effect (for example, major vs minor, large vs small, fatal vs survivable, painful vs painless)
Size of the population at risk
Spatial distribution of risks
Speed with which adverse events occur
Hohenemser, C., R.W. Kates, and P. Slovic. 1983. The nature of technological hazard. Science 220 (4495):378-384.
Jenni, K.E. 1997. Attributes for Risk Evaluation. Ph.D. Dissertation, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.
Litai, D., D. Lanning, and N. Rasmussen. 1983. The public perception of risk. Pp. 213-224 in The Analysis of Actual Versus Perceived Risks , V. Covello, W. Flamm, J. Rodericks and R. Tardiff, eds. New York: Plenum Press.
Lowrance, W.W. 1976. Of Acceptable Risk: Science and the Determination of Safety. Los Altos, CA: W. Kaufmann.
Rowe, W.D. 1977. An Anatomy of Risk. New York: Wiley.
Slovic, P., B. Fischhoff, and S. Lichtenstein. 1984. Behavioral decision theory perspectives on risk and safety. Acta Psychologica 56:183-203.
Vlek, C. and P.J. Stallen. 1980. Rational and personal aspects of risk. Acta Psychologica 45:273-300.