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Framing effects on risk perception of nanotechnology

[journal article]

Schütz, Holger; Wiedemann, Peter M.

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Abstract How do people judge nanotechnology risks that are completely unfamiliar to them? Drawing on results of previous studies on framing and risk perception, two hypotheses about potential influences on nanotechnology risk perception were examined in an experimental study: 1) Risk perception of nanotechnology is influenced by its benefit perception. 2) Risk perception of nanotechnology is influenced by the context in which nanotechnology is embedded, specifically by the characteristics of the enterprises that profit from nanotechnology: large multinational enterprises versus small and medium-sized enterprises. In contrast to findings for other new technologies, e.g. biotechnology, the different types of benefit did not affect risk perceptions in our study. However, we found that characterizing the enterprises as large multinational versus small or medium-sized leads to differences in risk perception. One can speculate that when personal knowledge about a technology is lacking, people use more familiar aspects from the social context as cues for their risk evaluation.
Free Keywords risk perception; nanotechnology; benefits; framing; social characteristics.;
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
Page/Pages p. 369-379
Journal Public Understanding of Science, 17 (2008) 3
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)