Book And Reports 2010

International study of the effects of information about precautionary measures on risk perceptions, trust and the evaluation of scientific knowledge regarding mobile telephony

Rajesh Shukla , Peter M. Wiedemann , Holger Schuetz , Franziska Boerner , Martin Clauberg , Rodney Croft , Toshiko Kikkawa , Ray Kemp , Jan M. Gutteling , Barney de Villiers , Flavia N. da Silva Medeiros , Julie Barnett

Published Report | ITAS, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany

The report an experimental study that investigates the effects of reporting precautionary measures on risk perception and trust in risk management in the field of mobile telephony. Because of the societal controversy whether the electromagentic fields of mobile telephony pose a risk at public health (Eurobarometer 2006, 2010) many countries do at least consider to implement a precautionary risk management regime; some have already implemented such measures. It seems that these activities are motivated by two reasons. First, decision makers intend to protect the public, even in a case when the health risk is not proven, and second, by using precautionary measures decision makers try to calm down concerns and anxieties that fuel the social controversy about how risky mobile telephony might be.

The crucial question is whether informing the public about implemented precautionary measures will lead to the intended effects, i.e., will result in more trust and less concerns. The study aims at closing the following knowledge gaps: (1) Does informing about PM affect risk perception or trust in public health protection? (1) Does it make a difference whether the precautionary measures refer to cell phone or to base stations (2) Does framing influence the effects of reporting precautionary measures? (3) How stable are these effects across different countries and cultures?

 The research was conducted in Austria, Brazil, India, Japan, Germany, The Netherlands, South Africa, UK and USA.