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Abstract

This research locates a series of risks or hazards within a framework characterised by the level of control respondents believe they have over the risks, and the level of worry the risks prompt. It does this for a set of both food and non-food risks. The means by which this is done is novel, and differs from past risk perception analyses in that it questions people directly regarding their relative assessments of the levels of control and worry over the risks presented. The cognitive burden associated with people ranking and scaling items in large sets is notoriously heavy, so this study uses an elicitation method designed to make the process intuitive and cognitively manageable for respondents. The substantive analysis of the risk perceptions has four main foci concerning the relative assessment of (i) novel as opposed to more familiar risks (e.g. swine flu vs. heart attack), (ii) food risks as opposed to non-food risks, (iii) perceived levels of control over the risks versus how worrying the risks are considered to be, (iv) differences in the risk perceptions across social groups, as in this paper we analyse the relative assessments of farmers and consumers with a particular orientation on E. coli.

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