This is consistent with what I have been saying on this blog over and over again.
Risk perception (pdf) used to be based on an analytical equation: you multiply the probability of an event by the potential damage of its outcome. But Paul Slovic, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, understood the powerful role of emotions in decision-making and altered that equation, noting that many things affect how we perceive risk:
- do you trust the person you are dealing with
- control vs. lack of control (lack of control inflates risk perceptions)
- is it catastrophic or chronic (catastrophic inflates risk perceptions)
- does it incite dread or anger (dread inflates risk perceptions)
- uncertainty (lack of knowledge about something inflates risk perceptions)
For those of us who work professionally in risk management, it’s striking how many of the controversies surrounding the Trump administration are essentially controversies about risks. That means that if you want to argue more effectively (and intelligently) about many of these controversies, you need to know some basics from the discipline known as risk analysis. The good news is that the basic concepts are very easy to learn.
Bruce Schneier is somewhat of an intellectual celebrity on all matters relating to security, especially information security.Although he doesn’t cite the work of Peter Sandman, what he writes about the psychology of security & risk is consistent with what Sandman says.
He posted the following article to his site one week ago. If you’re interested in terrorism-related risk, you’ll want to check this out. It’s a short read.