Irrational fear of risk lessens our enjoyment of life

Nice refresher on everyday risk. “Elimination of risk is impossible to achieve, yet we demand this impossible standard in many areas. The only sensible way to live is to make efforts to understand the risks, take action to sensibly minimize them, acknowledge that risk cannot be eliminated . . . and get on with it.”

Simoleon Says: When dealing with risk, always think about the consequences.

Introduction (Via Irish Times)

We tend to react in an exaggerated and sometimes irrational manner to rare and unfamiliar risks and to be blasé about familiar risks and about natural risks.

What might you feel concerned about when driving to the airport to travel by aircraft? You might worry that the aircraft will crash or be blown up by terrorists, but you probably don’t even think about crashing the car, which is a far more likely eventuality than an air crash or a terrorist incident.

Human attitude to risk was formed over millions of years as our brains evolved to cope with the risks we most frequently encountered, ie attack by dangerous animals, extreme weather, physical dangers such as floods, great heights, forest fires, and so on. Over our long evolutionary history we would not even have been conscious of rare and unfamiliar risks or long-term natural risks such as over-exposure to sunlight, and so on.

Favorite Excerpt(s) (Via Irish Times)

Studies (eg Risk Evaluation and Decision Making, Bo Lindell, Proceedings International Congress of Radiation Protection, 1996, Vol 1 ) have shown that our attitude to risk is determined by how we respond to a limited number of factors. We have a positive attitude towards the risk associated with a particular situation (think it is less risky) when we agree with the first factor of each of the following paired factors, and we have a negative attitude towards the risk when we agree with the second factor:

The risk involved is voluntary/ involuntary
I understand the risk/ don’t understand
The risk is familiar/ unfamiliar
I trust those responsible/ don’t trust
I control the situation/ don’t have control
The risk is natural (eg radon)/ the risk is artificial or “man-made”
I receive a benefit from undertaking the risk/ I receive no benefit

Click Here To Read About Risk Averseness & Quality Of Life

About Miguel Barbosa

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28. August 2009 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Curated Readings, Risk & Uncertainty | Leave a comment

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