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Tuesday
Apr032012

Cultural theory of risk: it's not just about clean air & water

It's remarkable and heartening to see how widespread the influence of the cultural theory of risk has become. 

Here are three recent examples of articles that assess the importance of the cutural predispositions for risk and science communication, none of which is about traditional environmental concerns:

  1. Griffiths, M. & Brooks, D.J. Informing Security Through Cultural Cognition: The Influence of Cultural Bias on Operational Security. Journal of Applied Security Research 7, 218-238 (2012).

    Cultural bias will influence risk perceptions and may breed “security complacency,” resulting in the decay of risk mitigation efficacy. Cultural Cognition theory provides a methodology to define how people perceive risks in a grid/group typology. In this study, the cultural perceptions of Healthcare professionals to access control measures were investigated. Collected data were analyzed for significant differences and presented on spatial maps. The results demonstrated correlation between cultural worldviews and perceptions of security risks, indicating that respondents had selected their risk perceptions according to their cultural adherence. Such understanding leads to improved risk management and reduced decay of mitigation strategies.

     
  2. Daniel J. Decker, W.F.S., Darrick T. N. Evensen, Richard C. Stedman, Katherine A. McComas,Margaret  A. Wild, Kevin T. Castle, and Kirsten M. Leong. Public perceptions of wildlife-associated disease: risk  communication matters. Human Wildlife Interactions 6, 112–122 (2012).

    Wildlife professionals working at the interface where conflicts arise between people and wild animals have an exceptional responsibility in the long-term interest of sustaining society’s support for wildlife and its conservation by resolving human–wildlife conflicts so that people continue to view wildlife as a valued resource. The challenge of understanding and responding to people’s concerns about wildlife is particularly acute in situations involving wildlife-associated disease and may be addressed through One Health communication. Two important questions arise in this work: (1) how will people react to the message that human health and wildlife health are linked?; and (2) will wildlife-associated disease foster negative attitudes about wildlife as reservoirs, vectors, or carriers of disease harmful to humans? The answers to these questions will depend in part on whether wildlife professionals successfully manage wildlife disease and communicate the associated risks in a way that promotes societal advocacy for healthy wildlife rather than calls for eliminating wildlife because they are viewed as disease-carrying pests. This work requires great care in both formal and informal communication. We focus on risk perception, and we briefly discuss guidance available for risk communication, including formation of key messages and the importance of word choices.

     
  3. Kaklauskas, A., et al. Passive house model for quantitative and qualitative analyses and its intelligent system. Energy and Buildings (in press), on-line publication available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2012.03.008.

    The passive house, along with models of its composite parts, has been developed globally. Simulation tools analyze its energy use, comfort, micro-climate, quality of life and aesthetics as well as its technical, economic, legal/regulatory, educational and innovative aspects. Meanwhile the social, cultural, ethical, psychological, emotional, religious and ethnic aspects operating over the course of the existence of a passive house are given minimal attention or are ignored entirely. However, all the aspects mentioned must be analyzed in an integrated manner during the time a passive house is in existence. The authors of this article implemented this goal while they participated in two Intelligent Energy Europe programs, the Northpass and the DES-EDU projects. The Passive house model for quantitative and qualitative analyses and its intelligent system was developed during the time of these projects. The model and intelligent system are briefly described in this article, which ends with a case study.

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