Summary Risk: a short introduction

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Summary - Risk: a short introduction

  • 1.1 A simple scheme

  • Risks threaten things we value, what we do about them depends on:
    • The options we have (undergo surgery)
    • The outcomes we value (get well)
    • The beliefs about the outcomes that might follow, if we choose each option
  • Decision theory looks at choices from three complementary perspectives:
    • Logical, normative analysis if we were fully informed etc. (if we knew everything) --> organizing the relevant facts
    • Descriptive study of the necessarily imperfect ways in which we make actual choices --> seeing where people need help
    • Prescriptive interventions, trying to bridge the gap between the normative ideal and the descriptive reality --> providing that help
  • 1.3 Risk and uncertainty

  • Assessing event probabilities is one province of risk analysis
  • Risk perceptions are often biased, one reason for this is that other drivers' mistakes are more visible than our own -->information about the average would help
  • Risk homeostasis:
    drivers pay for the right to sue, then drive less safely, expecting compensation for any minor pain and suffering, thereby keeping their overall risk level constant
  • Framing risk:
    a decision at a different level that influences risk perception and risk decision-making of others.  It is also a risk decision.
  • 1.5 Risk and insurance

  • Adverse selection:
    People forgo insurance, expecting others to pay their costs, through disaster relief or bank rescues
  • 1.7 The social context of risk decisions

  • Public decisions have a big influence in private decisions: the probability of premature birth depends of the public decision about pregnant women's  health.
  • These public decisions are also subject to normative, descriptive and prescriptive analyses. (did they consider everything?)
  • Officials claim to be the people, but onyl if they used the analyses that people value.
  • 1.8 Conclusion: risks derive their meaning from risk decisions

    • Normative analyses: can organize the relevant knowledge and uncertainties
    • Descriptive research: can contrast decision-makers' intuitive views with the normative analysis
    • Prescriptive interventions: can help people to make better choices
  • Decision theory:
    provides a toolkit for identifying and organizing knowledge that might be helpful in making risk decisions
  • 1.9 Integrative framework (PP)

  • The integrative framework:
    helps us make science-based yet participatory decisions about risk and uncertainty
  • Stages of the integrative framework:
    1. Pre-assessment
    2. Risk appraisal: risk and concern management, including assessment of risk decisions
    3. Risk evaluation
    4. Risk management
    5. (cross-cutting-aspects)
  • Pre-assessment:
    • How the risk is framed by different stakeholders
    • Whether there are applicable legal or institutional procedures or rules
    • Choice of evaluation standard (normative framework)
    • Choice of methods
  • Why do a risk assessment?

    •Stakeholders perceive significant risks
    •New factors have introduced new hazards or routes of exposure
    •Different stakeholders conflict in their risk perceptions
    •Objective risks appear high (e.g., an accident or near-accident has occurred)
    •More knowledge is likely to significantly improve effective interventions
    •(or others)
  • After pre-assessment:
    1. Appraisal: gaining knowledge of perceptions, scenarios and likelihood/outcome
    2. Evaluation: application of evaluative standard
    3. Management/governance: deciding how to respond and making a plan
  • Summary of the integrative framework:


    •The integrative framework helps us make science-based, public risk decisions. It has many similarities to other risk analysis frameworks.
    •It is important to have a strong reason to do a risk analysis. Risk analysis costs time and money. Not all rational risk decisions are based on a scientific assessment. •The key stages are pre-assessment, appraisal (including risk and concern assessment), evaluation, and management/ governance
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