Psychometric risk perception: Why some individuals elect not to act on risks?

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Centre for Security Research, Edith Cowan University

Place of Publication

Perth, Western Australia


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Engineering / Centre for Security Research




Alsuhaimi,J., & Brooks, D.J. (2008). Psychometric risk perception: Why some individuals elect not to act on risks? In the Proceedings of the 1st Australian Security and Intelligence Conference. Perth, Australia: Centre for Security Research, Edith Cowan University. (pp. 12 - 16).


Each year natural disasters cause significant economic loss around the globe, despite the efforts exerted by local governments to reduce the impact of such disasters. One major factor in these efforts is the interaction of local residents to take precautionary action in order to mitigate negative implications. Some studies have indicated that with the help of local people, financial damages can be reduced by up to 80%. However, many people located in areas of natural disasters choose not to take any actions despite warnings from their local governments. The purpose of this paper was to investigate why people make certain decisions and provide an explanation of the phenomenon. The concept of psychometric risk perception has been used for the past 30 years to consider, in part, why people may make decisions based on the perceived risk. Within the paper, psychometric risk perception was used to explain how people interpret warning messages and how this may affect their decisions - whether to take precautionary actions or not. Studies conducted in Taiwan, Germany and New Zealand were also utilised to support the study’s outcomes. Results considered the differences between expert and lay persons, cultural and social factors, visceral level of risk and the importance of trust. Finally, that for risk communication to lead to precautionary action requires a heuristics approach; however, further research is still required in order to gain a better understanding as psychometric risk cannot provide an appropriate explanation.

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