Title

A Study of the Impact of the Affect Heuristic on the Risk Perception of Security Experts

Date of Award

2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Security Management

School

School of Computer and Security Science

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

David Brooks

Abstract

The management of security risk is widely viewed as a rational undertaking where accuracy is reliant upon the objective assessment of security experts. There is a traditional belief that experts have a greater understanding of objective 'risk'. However, when faced with uncertainty, both experts and laypersons rely on subjective mental frameworks, or heuristics, for making sense of complex environments. Where positive and negative affect such as feelings of 'good' and 'bad' are introduced to judgements, an affect heuristic can be demonstrated. Utilising the psychometric paradigm as its theoretical framework, the study measured aspects of an affect heuristic in expert perception of security risk to establish whether there was an impact on judgements made in the risk assessment process. The psychometric factors of dread risk and familiarity to risk were utilised as the objective measures of risk perception toward security risk scenarios constructed with negative and neutral affective words. The results were then evaluated in light of the variations in perceived levels of dread and familiarity recorded for a sample population of 20 security experts. The study demonstrated that the introduction of affect to security risk information did lead to variations in security risk experts' perceived levels of dread risk and familiarity to risk. As a result, the assessment of security risk could be considered subjective despite the expertise of the assessor. The study also showed that expertise created greater familiarity to risk, and as a result muted the influence of affect. The sample population believed the security risk scenarios to be high dread risk and moderate familiarity with risk.

LCSH Subject Headings

Fear of crime

Risk assessment

Security consultants -- Attitudes.

Access Note

Access to this thesis - the full text is restricted to current ECU staff and students only. Email request to library@ecu.edu.au

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