- Paperback: 255 pages
- Publisher: Pde Pubns; 2nd edition (March 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0969912439
- ISBN-13: 978-0969912439
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,895,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Target Risk 2: A New Psychology of Safety and Health 2nd Edition
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Any attempt to answer whether we are implementing the right safety measures must address the controversial issue of "risk homeostasis." -- Ivan D. Brown, Medical Research Council, Cambridge, England<br /><br />Any attempt to answer whether we are implementing the right safety measures must address the controversial issue of "risk homeostasis." -- Ivan D. Brown, Medical Research Council, Cambridge, England<br /><br />The basic idea of risk homeostasis has been laid out brilliantly by the Canadian psychologist Gerald Wilde. -- Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker<br /><br />Wilde is to be congratulated for carefully and explicitly setting out a fascinating theory of risk-taking behaviour. --Paul Slovic and Baruch Fischhoff, Decision Research, Eugene, Oregon<br /><br />The basic idea of risk homeostasis has been laid out brilliantly by the Canadian psychologist Gerald Wilde. -- Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker<br /><br />Wilde is to be congratulated for carefully and explicitly setting out a fascinating theory of risk-taking behaviour. --Paul Slovic and Baruch Fischhoff, Decision Research, Eugene, Oregon
From the Publisher
PDE Publications/Drivers.com chose to publish this revised and expanded edition because of the huge success of the first book, Target Risk. Dr. Wilde's theory and arguments are even more relevant today, in a world that has a new sense of risk and risk taking behaviour.
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Top Customer Reviews
Risk homeostasis is the process by which human beings maintain a more-or-less constant level of (perceived) exposure to risk.
In a famous experiment in the 1950s, an English psychologist monitored galvanic skin response in drivers as they drove through a loop of London streets. He measured the risks drivers took (the "perceived level of danger" inherent in things like passing, speed, rapidity of lange changes, acceleration, braking etc) and found that drivers maintained a fairly steady "rate" of risk taking as measured as a function of time spend driving. In other words, during "safe" sections of road (wide, straight) drivers drove faster and took more maneuvering risks. In more dangerous sections (curvy, more traffic, etc) drivers drove more slowly. The key, however, was that drivers maintained a steady state of exposure to risk.
In another well known experiment, in 1977 the government of B.C., Canada instituted a crackdown on drunk driving. The crackdown lowered the rate of alcohol-caused accidents by about 25%, but during the six-month crackdown other types of accidents ROSE by 25%. Risk hoemeostasis would say that as people saw their (and others') driving risks due to alcohol reduced, they took more risks elsewhere.
Wilde's work investigated this idea and develops it into the theory of "risk homeostasis," which holds that people have a "risk target" of dangerous behaviours. When they reduce risky behaviour in one area (e.g. they start to wear seatbelts to increase the accident survival rate) they increase it in another (driving faster and more aggressively) to maintain a constant level of risk. Wilde suggests that this "target level" of risk is difficult to change, and presents a mass of evidence to suggest that impeoving safety of roads, cars etc does not, in fact, reduce the per-capita injury or death rate.
Wilde's theory accounts for a number of strange and well-documented phenomena. Smokers who quit smoking do not live longer (on average) than those who do not quit. Increases in traffic safety measures do not change the accident rate per capita-- the accident rate per mile driven drops, but the total number of miles driven increases. Insurance rate changes for those who have accidents do not change driver behaviour. Anti-smoking and anti-drinking etc campaigns do not work.
This is a clear and well-written book that presents a strange, counterintuitive and fascinating idea. The implications for teachers, politicians, health-care people and drivers are enormous. My only beef with the work is that Wilde gets his narrative (how he developed the theory) and his factual presnetations (what he found) mixed up at times. Overall, however, this is fine stuff.