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Risk Anal. 1995 Oct;15(5):575-88.

Characterizing perception of ecological risk.

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University of British Columbia, Westwater Research Centre, Vancouver, Canada.


Relatively little attention has been paid to the role of human perception and judgment in ecological risk management. This paper attempts to characterize perceived ecological risk, using the psychometric paradigm developed in the domain of human health risk perception. The research began by eliciting a set of scale characteristics and risk items (e.g., technologies, actions, events, beliefs) from focus group participants. Participants in the main study were 68 university students who completed a survey instrument that elicited ratings for each of 65 items on 30 characteristic scales and one scale regarding general risk to natural environments. The results are presented in terms of mean responses over individuals for each scale and item combination. Factor analyses show that five factors characterize the judgment data. These have been termed: impact on species, human benefits, impact on humans, avoidability, and knowledge of impacts. The factor results correspond with initial expectations and provide a plausible characterization of judgments regarding ecological risk. Some comparisons of mean responses for selected individual items are also presented.

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