Putting the personal into risk measurement: exploring the roles of psychological and sociological factors in the perception of risk in the water industry
AuthorKosovac, A; Davidson, A; Malano, H
Source Title22nd International Congress on Modelling and Simulation Conference Proceedings
University of Melbourne Author/sKosovac, Anna
Document TypeConference Paper
CitationsKosovac, A., Davidson, A. & Malano, H. (2017). Putting the personal into risk measurement: exploring the roles of psychological and sociological factors in the perception of risk in the water industry. 22nd International Congress on Modelling and Simulation Conference Proceedings, MSSANZ. https://doi.org/10.36334/modsim.2017.K5.kosovac.
Access StatusOpen Access
Risk measurement has predominantly utilised the technical and scientific approach to risk, developed in the 1950s and 1960s. This ‘rational’ and ‘objective’ approach to assessing risks has not been updated and is still widely used within the water industry. Furthermore, it has been cemented in risk management standards, and acts as the key model for risk assessments. Risk research in the last forty years has proposed alternate theories that are highly critical of the systematic, ‘rational’ approach of these old risk practices. This criticism stems from the lack of incorporating psychological, sociological and cultural risk elements in assessments, thus limiting the scope of how risks are actually perceived by assessors. Psychological approaches consider the risk assessor’s own affiliations with the risk, based on experience and other psychological factors. Sociological theories, such as those proposed by Mary Douglas and Aaron Wildavsky, argue that the beliefs, or worldviews of the assessor more effectively describes how a risk will be evaluated. In this paper an approach to test the extent technical risk approaches can be deemed ‘rational’ and ‘objective’ and whether psychological or cultural theories of risk may be more effectively describe how risks are actually evaluated, are highlighted. The water sector’s existing risk processes are used to test these theories. This industry is highly regulated, and also (in most cases) government-led, acting as a good candidate for assessment of risk processes. Water management is also becoming an ever more pertinent issue. In circumstances of declining supply and increased demand, risk assessments act as the decision-making tool in the gateway to implementing new projects. Therefore, whether risks are assessed comprehensively will have long-term ramifications in water management.
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