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Risk Communication

Georg Ruhrmann


Risk communication is a field of communications research that is used by a variety of professionals, including →  Public Relations and other professionals involved in purposive communications in government and the private sector (→  Strategic Communication ). Risk communication can be defined as a process that increases the selectivity of the →  Perception and communication of decision consequences. The decision consequences experienced by the decision-maker are based on “uncertainty” ( Otway & Wynne 1989 ), a situation where actions have to be taken under conditions of incomplete information. The prominent theoretical concepts of risk communications are based on the sociology of risk ( Luhmann 2005 ), as well as journalism research ( Wilkins & Patterson 1991 ; Görke & Ruhrmann 2003 ). There are at least three dimensions to risk communication: (1) issue, (2) communicator, and (3) audience. First, risk communication is contingent upon the actual issue that is assessed and perceived as being risky . A “risk” (R) is the product of the probability (P) of damage and the seriousness of this damage (S), that is R = P × S ( Rowe 1977 ). Risk can be differentiated between specific intensities, as well as between specific types of potential damages ( Slovic 1987 ). Types of potential damage include accidents (e.g., an explosion at a chemical factory), natural catastrophes ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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