Risk perception


Risk perception is the view of risk held by a person or group and reflects cultural and personal values, as well as experience.


Risk perception in flood prone areas include information on risk and vulnerability perception among the public and decision-makers as well as the conceptual knowledge and social theory of living with flood risk. The evaluation of risk perception among the public deals with the following questions:

  • What do the public know about the risk for flooding and flood protection?
  • How does a major flood influence their perception of this risk and demands to safety standards?
  • What is their opinion about the necessity and adequacy of flood protection?
  • How well does the information about the flood risk reach them and the local decision-makers normally and during a flood event?
  • Polls directed towards the general public and expert panels directed to the decision-makers will be used for data acquisition.


Risk perception research, for example in the FLOWS project, has contributed to a more sophisticated understanding of how individuals and groups react to different hazards and risk situations. Influencing factors include those related to the hazard itself, to societal frameworks and processes and to individual and group characteristics. The following seven significant lessons from this research can be outlined:

  • People tend not to think that risks will affect them personally
  • Possible consequences influence demand for risk reduction more than probability
  • People are concerned about aspects of risk other than the probability of loss
  • People differ in how they perceive risks
  • Perception of risk is dependent on context
  • People do not necessarily "learn from experience
  • Risk perception is about cognitions and emotions

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Further Information

FLOWS project E-learning:

"Risk perception - Tutorial"

"Risk perception - KnowledgeBase"