Info - Project RPX

Comparisons of risk perception in different countries and cultures

Bernd ROHRMANN (University of Melbourne)

= Project summary =

In a series of socio-psychological field studies, perceptions and subjective evaluations of risky activities and environmental conditions are investigated in several countries. The aim of this cross-cultural project is to analyze the cognitive structure of judgments about the magnitude and acceptability of risks to which individuals are exposed; to explore disparities between different societal groups; and to compare risk judgments across countries in which risk issues in general as well as particular risk sources (e.g., industrial facilities or natural hazards) have different salience.

Project CRC1: In a first series of studies, data were collected in Germany (N=217), New Zealand (N=224) and Australia (N=272). In each country, 4 groups of respondents were defined: people with a "technological", "monetarian", "ecological" or "feminist" orientation, representing societal sub-cultures. Participants were asked for judgments on 24 hazards (based on a taxonomy) according to 12 risk aspects (derived from a structural risk perception model).

Project CRC2: Aiming at a comparison of "western" and "eastern" countries, a modified data collection was conducted in China (N=270), and that study was fully repeated in Australia (N=203). Regarding hazards, 12 previously used items and 12 new items were included. The sampling focuses on 3 groups of students (i.e., Geography, Psychology, Engineering) and a group of scientists. In a second phase data were collected in Germany (N=235), Singapore (N=153), Canada (N=183) and Japan (N=197). This completed the project, to date the largest cross-national risk perception study

Project CRC3: In order to include South-American countries in risk perception research, a data collection in Argentina, Brazil and Chile was set up, using a modified version of the Rohrmann Hazard Evaluation Questionnaire HEQ. Currently the first of these studies, in BuenosAires/Argentina (N~130), is on hold because of staff amendments. The second one, in Recife/Brazil (N=160), was executed successfully. The third one, in Santiago/Chile, could not yet be realized.

Data comparisons for countries, for societal or professional groups and for types of risks yield multifarious differences (click rpx-sampling for the list of samples and click rpx-dat1 and rpx-dat2 and rpx-dat3 for three result tables; full publication in preparation). The results so far demonstrate the strong influence of socio-psychological factors and the cultural quality of risk evaluations (click rpx-mod for a model in which the principal structure of risk perception process is conceptualized). In 2013 a synopsis of the whole research program has been provided. The findings are valuable for a better understanding of societal risk controversies and designing comprehensive risk information, communication and education programs.

= Selected publications =

BORCHERDING, K., ROHRMANN, B., & EPPEL, T. (1986): A psychological study on the cognitive structure of risk evaluations; p. 245-262 in: Brehmer, B., Jungermann, H., Lourens, P., & Sevon, G. (Eds.): New directions in research on decision making; Amsterdam: North-Holland.

ROHRMANN, B. (1994): Risk perception of different societal groups: Australian findings and cross-national comparisons; Australian Journal of Psychology, 46, 150-164.

ROHRMANN, B. & CHEN, H. (1999): Risk perception in Australia and China - a cross cultural psychometric study; Journal of Risk Research, 2, 219-241.

ROHRMANN, B. (2000): Cross-national studies on the perception and evaluation of hazards; in: Renn, O. & Rohrmann, B. (Eds.): Cross-cultural risk perception research; Dordrecht: Kluwer.

ROHRMANN, B. (2005). Perception of risk: Research, results, relevance. In Gough, J. (Ed.), Sharing the future. Christchurch: CAE publications, University of Canterbury.

ROHRMANN, B. (2009). Implications of people's risk perception for conceptualizing emergency preparedness; in: Rosmueller, N. & Knesic, S. (Eds.): Proceedings of the 16th TIEMS Annual Conference "Lets meet where the continents meet" in Istanbul (Turkey) [CD format]. Oslo: TIEMS.

ROHRMANN, B. & EICHNER, E. (2010, revised 2012): Perception of hazards for health and safety - cross-cultural social-science perspectives. Invited by and submitted to "Zeitschrift fuer erfahrungswissenschaftliche Sozialforschung" {Journal of empirical social-science research}.

ROHRMANN, B. (2013): Comparisons of risk perception in different cultures: Profile and synopsis of a social science research venture conducted in 9 countries. Reports, Roman Research Road.

= Contact address =

Prof. Bernd ROHRMANN,  via
Roman Research Road venture, Melbourne, Victoria 3054, AUSTRALIA
E-Mail: mail {at}

Updated: BR 31-05-12