Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN22_01: Current Research in Risk Perception and Representation
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Aiste Balzekiene, Kaunas university of technology
Location: UP.4.212
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road

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Social Trust And Representations About Risks Of The Introduction Of Artificial Intelligence Into Everyday Life

Timofei Nestik

Institute of psychology, Russian academy of sciences, Russian Federation

The results of a series of empirical studies (N = 526, N = 129, N = 293) are presented, that were devoted to the socio-psychological predictors of Russian adults’ attitudes toward the introduction of AI systems into everyday life. Different psychological types of AI technologies ("cyborgization technologies" and "smart city technologies") are identified, which are influenced by different psychological factors. Different types of fears about the possible consequencies of AI adoption in society are revealed. It is shown that the perceived threats of AI are associated not so much with the reliability and predictability of the technology as with its use by the state and other people. At the same time, fears that artificial intelligence will get out of control and subjugate people are more typical for those who are ready to use AI technologies, believes in its rapid development and benefit to society. It is shown that the estimation of the technologies of specialized AI and their possible influence on society directly depends on the person’s level of social trust. It was found that the willingness to interact with the general AI as a partner that has consciousness and emotions requires a combination of techno-optimism with social optimism, with confidence in social institutions and other people. Support for the using of AI to improve the effectiveness of social institutions was not associated with prosocial and collectivist attitudes, but with an emphasis on personal success and a low value of safety. Perspectives of further research are proposed.

European Parents’ Risk Perception Of Online Hazards: Identifying Cognitive Styles

Giuseppe Alessandro Veltri

University of Trento, Italy

In this study we have carried out a study about European parents’ risk perception of online hazards concerning their children using a survey aimed at exploring different dimensions and determinants of risks. In this research, the target population was citizens aged 25–65, with children aged 6–14 living in their household and under their responsibility or care. The survey was conducted by computer-assisted web interviews (CAWI) using online panels in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, with 800 interviews per country (total N = 6,400). We carried out a two stages analysis, in the first part, we have explored the mapping and grouping of hazards based on participants’ assessment. In the second part, we carried a cognitive style segmentation of subjects based on the way how the risk perception judgements are made. This approach draws upon a cognitive sociology approach, which proposed the idea of “thought collectives” or “thought communities” identifiable by means of shared cultural schemas. The analysis was carried out using novel techniques like Correlational Class Analysis (Boutlyline, 2017) and Relational Class Analysis (Goldber, 2011). Results indicated the presence of three different cultural schemas defined groups that cut across countries and socio-demographic characteristics. Implications for the study of risk perception will be discussed.


• Boutyline, A. (2017). Improving the Measurement of Shared Cultural Schemas with Correlational Class Analysis: Theory and Method. Sociological Science, 4, 353–393.

• Goldberg, A. (2011). Mapping shared understandings using relational class analysis: The case of the cultural omnivore reexamined. American Journal of Sociology, 116(5), 1397–1436.

Beyond Information Control – The Enabling Qualities of Fatalism

Kathrin Englert, Wolfgang Ludwig-Mayerhofer, David Waldecker

University of Siegen, Germany

Web-based communication opens up possibilities of unlimited observation, surveillance and data collection by a wide range of institutions and individuals: by platform-based companies like Google or Facebook who monetize data, by seemingly ever-increasing governmental surveillance, but also by other users such as employers, (former) friends, loose acquaintances or hackers. While users are alerted by media, teachers, parents etc. about the dangers of intelligence operations, “surveillance capitalisms” and excessive posting, they can never be fully knowledgeable about what is done to and with their data. In other words, using web-based services entails risks and uncertainty.

How do users perceive the risks and uncertainties inherent to their social media usage? The paper addresses this question drawing on qualitative data on young people (aged 16 to 22) collected within the research project B06 of the Collaborative Research Centre 1187 at Siegen University. This age group is engaged extensively in online activities and thus especially challenged to consider questions of information control. Our findings show that the perception of risk and uncertainty in social media relates to their individual understandings of undesired observation. When interpersonal surveillance plays a crucial role the privacy settings of social media platforms count as technical solution offering effective risk management. When institutional surveillance is seen as relevant undesired observation young people perceive themselves without information control and adopt a fatalistic attitude. Fatalism in this case represents a positive coping strategy because it enables users of web-based services to stay capable to act under the condition of constant uncertainty.

Threat Response Over Time: Political Compartmentalization Of Terrorism Risk Perception

Pekka Räsänen1, Aki Koivula1, Teo Keipi1, Atte Oksanen2

1University of Turku, Finland; 2University of Tampere, Finland

Societal threats are a growing concern in European democracies in light of risks of terrorism. There is a need to understand how risk perceptions have changed over time ideologically and demographically. This article provides a novel look into threat response over time while considering potential ideological links to the phenomenon. The model of threat response over time (TROT) is developed in order to understand how fear of specific threats may evolve societally and ideologically over time given competing risk phenomena. The analysis is based on four comparable population surveys collected between 2004 and 2017 (N=7,775) in Finland. Findings showed that terrorism risk perception was highest in 2004 and declined during the 2010s despite multiple terrorist attacks in Western Europe. Terrorism risk perception became ideologically based in 2014 and 2017, and the decrease in terrorism was explained by the deepening of political polarization. Overall, the findings reflect the evolution of risk perception over time depending on values, attitudes and goals, here linked to political ideology. The TROT model proved useful for understanding the phenomenon and could be applied to other countries as well. These findings help us to deepen our understanding of the significance of contemporary populists affecting not only political systems but also the realignment of traditional parties.

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