Modeling the Dynamics of Risk Perception and Fear: Examining Amplifying Mechanisms and Their Consequences

Principal Investigator: William Burns

Other Researchers: Paul Slovic


The purpose of this research is to improve our understanding of how perceived risk and negative emotions (e.g., fear, anger, sadness) might spread throughout a community and ripple to other parts of the nation following events differing in their risk signal. It specifically seeks to understand the public’s comparative response to a wide array of hazards. It also seeks to examine how the effects of risk-communication messaging spread throughout a population offering protection from counterproductive attitudes and behaviors. This work significantly extends the system-dynamics modeling done by Burns and Slovic, decision modeling by Rosoff, John, Burns, and Siko and CGE modeling by Giesecke et al. by explicitly examining changes in consumption, wage demands and investment decisions. It provides the foundation for a broad and fundamental research program that looks closely at the mechanisms that may amplify risk following adverse events. This research contributes to CREATE’s core mission in the themes of Risk Perception and Communication and Costs and Consequences of Terrorism.