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A Good Introduction to Risk Perception and Why We Fear Risks,
This review is from: Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear (Paperback)Fear of an event occurring is often disproportionate to the actual risk of the event happening. This means that for many, the things that they fear the most are much less likely to happen than other things that should be higher on their worry-list.
Dan Gardner talks through several scenarios, and explains from a psychological perspective the mechanisms that cause people to fear what may have little chance of harming them. This includes discussing how the human mind assesses risk, which can be split into two categories:
1. Unconscious thinking (gut)
2. Conscious thinking (head)
The gut often overreacts to risk, while the head has to correct for it. These two categories, combined with several psychological principles (anchoring rule, example rule, etc) is used throughout the book to explain several examples where the fear in populations of a particular risk is overblown compared to what the actual science and risk are. These examples include breast implants, crime, terrorism among others. There is also a discussion of groups who want to increase the perception of risk to support their own agendas.
Despite the people of today living longer, healthier, safer lives than ever, we worry more about the smaller things. Why is that? Read this book to find out.
The Bottom Line: A good introduction to risk perception and why we fear them, with examples and discussion pulled from various topics, including crime and breast implants.