- Mark Rasmuson, Academy of Educational Development
What are the key factors that determine how people perceive and respond to a specific risk—whether from an earthquake, an epidemic, an environmental hazard, or an act of terrorism? Research in the public health field has indicated that if people believe themselves to be personally susceptible to a health risk, and it is severe in nature, they are more likely take action to reduce their risk. Other factors shown to be important in health decision making are the perceived efficacy of the response to the threat (if a protective action is viewed as likely to be highly efficacious, it is more likely to be taken than one that is not), and social norms (if many others are doing something, it is more likely that I will follow suit). Do these factors apply in other risk management settings?
This online session will address how we assess or identify risk (our perception of risk, whether it is real or not) – and then how to communicate this assessment to various audiences. Risk communication (according to Wikipedia) is a complex cross-disciplinary field (related to crisis communication) that involves reaching different audiences to make a risk comprehensible, understanding and respecting audience values, predicting the audience’s response to the communication, and improving collective and individual decision making. The session will move from a general to more specific discussion of risk communication, across different development sectors. Participants will be invited to develop a dialogue according to their specific interests, engaging experts in the field as resources and respondents. Examples of specific questions that may be addressed include: What are the key elements of Risk Communication? How is it being used differently in different risk management settings? What is the state of the art and who are the leading practitioners? What research methods are available to help program planners understand risk perceptions? How can planners use data to design more effective risk communication programs? What theories, models, tools, and case studies exist to serve as resources for risk communication practitioners?