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Public perceptions of risk and preference-based values of safety

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Susan Chilton, Emeritus Professor Michael Jones-Lee, Professor Graham Loomes


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This article reports the results of two studies aimed at estimating preference-based values of safety in three contexts-namely rail, domestic fires and fires in public places-relative to the corresponding value for roads using "matching" (or "equivalence") questions. In addition, both studies included a variety of questions intended to shed light on respondents' perceptions of risk and attitudes to safety in the various contexts. While the two studies were, to all intents and purposes, identical in the procedure that they employed, the essential difference between them was that the first study took place in late 1998, whereas the second study was carried out in early 2000 in the aftermath of a major rail accident at Ladbroke Grove near London's Paddington station which occurred in October 1999 and in which 29 passengers and 2 train drivers died. In addition, the second study sample was deliberately weighted to contain an above-average proportion of regular rail users. These studies demonstrated how certain factors which have been shown to affect people's perception of risk (see Slovic, P. (1992). In S. Krimsky and D. Golding (eds.), Social Theories of Risk, Westport, CT: Praeger, pp. 117-152) also affected our respondents' priorities over safety programs. The results also showed however, that the impact of these perceptions upon the trade-offs between preventing deaths in different hazard contexts was a good deal less pronounced than has been suggested by the value differentials that are currently implicit-and in some cases, explicit-in public policy making.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chilton S, Covey J, Hopkins L, Jones-Lee M, Loomes G, Pidgeon N, Spencer A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

Year: 2002

Volume: 25

Issue: 3

Pages: 211-232

ISSN (print): 0895-5646

ISSN (electronic): 1573-0476

Publisher: Springer New York LLC


DOI: 10.1023/A:1020962104810


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