Determinants of Priority for Risk Reduction: The Role of Worry
One hundred twenty-two members (experts) of the Society for Risk Analysis completed a mailed questionnaire and 150 nonexperts completed a similar questionnaire on the World Wide Web. Questions asked included those about priorities on personal and government action for risk reduction, badness of the risk, number of people affected, worry, and probabilities for self and others. Individual differences in mean desire for action were largely explained in terms of worry. Worry, in turn, was largely affected by probability judgments, which were lower for experts than for nonexperts. Differences across risks in the desire for action, within each subject, were also determined largely by worry and probability. Belief in expert knowledge about the risk increased worry and the priority for risk reduction. A second study involving 91 nonexperts (42 interviewed and 49 on the Web) replicated the main findings for nonexperts from the first study. Interviews also probed the determinants of worry, attitudes toward government versus personal control, and protective behaviors.