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NCJ Number: 204470 Find in a Library
Title: Assessing and Communicating the Risk of Terrorism (From Roundtable on Social and Behavioral Sciences and Terrorism, 2004, -- See NCJ-204468
Author(s): Baruch Fischhoff
Date Published: 2004
Page Count: 39
Sponsoring Agency: National Research Council
Washington, DC 20001
Sale Source: National Research Council
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In discussing research that should and could be applied to countering terrorism, this paper discusses the psychology of risk; risk analysis and risk communication; special considerations in the domain of terrorism; how to apply these perspective to bioterrorism; and some areas for the immediate development of applications and supporting basic science.
Abstract: The discussion of the psychology of risk focuses on both the public and terrorism experts. The public must have preparation well in advance of any terror-related crisis. The public must be guided in effective decisionmaking and in how they fit into larger counterterrorism plans. Terrorism evokes a wide range of emotions that must be understood if the Nation's leaders are to aid and predict citizens' choices. Experts, on the other hand, must be careful not to magnify risks in order to motivate citizens. Except for extreme situations (e.g., rapid evacuations), experts must seek a partnership with the public in implementing a rational strategy for addressing terrorism risks and crises. Regarding risk analysis and communication, one way of disciplining expert judgement is to perform formal risk analyses. This means identifying valued outcomes, the processes affecting them, and the experts with the best understanding of each. A focus on the special challenges of terrorism typically involves projecting scenarios outside of what individuals and the Nation have experienced in the past, so as to prevent and/or be prepared to address unprecedented crises. This paper examines issues in bioterrorism as an example of how to respond to the distinctive character of terrorism. In summary, the paper advises that effective risk analysis and communication require quantitative estimates of risk and explicit representation of the processes that shape those risks. Producing them requires diverse expertise, as well as the integration of risk analysis and communication, such that people's problems are addressed and their trust is secured. 28 suggested resources
Main Term(s): Domestic Preparedness
Index Term(s): Behavior under stress; Group behavior; Public education; Risk management; Terrorist tactics; Threat assessment; Victimization risk
Note: From Science and Technology in a Vulnerable World, 55-64, based on remarks delivered at the 27th Annual AAAS Colloquium on Science and Technology Policy held April 11-12, 2002, in Washington, DC.
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