Hazard vs Outrage
You see a person crossing a railway track and are filled with apprehensions. This is because of perceived risk to his life because of an incoming train at a high speed. But the man himself perceives no risk as he feels he is in control of the situation and will easily cross the tracks before the train arrives. The hazard to the life of the person remains the same but you are outraged more than the person and this why you feel a greater risk than the person himself. This is a concept that explains why some risks are felt greater than others. Once you understand the concepts of outrage and hazard, you can know how perceived fear increases or decreases.
Those who have studied risk know that it depends upon its magnitude and probability of occurrence. But in real life, risk is perceived as big or small depending upon hazard and outrage. Let us see these two terms closely. Outrage is public outcry against a hazard that is seen as a danger to lives of the people. Administration is often concerned more with this outrage than with actual danger as it acts upon sensibilities of people more often than not.
To understand the differences between how risks are perceived by general public, one has to look at the list of environmental risks depending upon deaths caused by them in a year. If you compare them with risks perceived as severe by public, you will be surprised to see that the two lists contain different results. People fear those risks more that arouse anger and also frighten people than risks that kill silently. This is an amazing discovery that tells us that in calculating a risk, both hazard and outrage play a significant role.
One example is enough to exemplify this concept. Cigarette smoking causes many times more deaths every year than a certain methylmeatloaf in air. Yet it is amazing the kind of outrage any news about methylmeatloaf generates than thousands of deaths taking place in hospitals with people dying of lung cancers because of cigarette smoking. This example is enough to tell us how badly we need effective risk communication in our country.
Hazard vs Outrage
• Perceived risk is always more important than actual risk, and this is what is exemplified by the concepts of hazard and outrage.
• If outrage is less, perceived risk is also small despite the fact that hazard remains the same.
• On the other hand, perceived risk becomes high when outrage is high even if actual hazard is low.