Risk Perception and Symptom Reporting
Risk Analysis, Vol. 16, No. 6, 1996
11 Pages Posted: 1 May 2011
Date Written: April 11, 1996
Public reaction to chemical technologies has included a perception that chemical exposure is a contributor to human health problems. Though these perceptions sometimes correspond with technical assessments of chemical risks, at other times they do not. This paper presents a descriptive model of the relationship between perception of one's health status and a set of factors that are used by individuals as part of causal reasoning about the meaning of somatic change. The model incorporates both personal events and experiences associated with somatic change (e.g., stress, sensory cues), as well as aspects of an individual's social context in which perceptions of chemical risks serve as a powerful framework for attributing meaning to chemical exposure. Within this model, the causal inferences that people make about the effects of chemical exposure on symptomatology are viewed as part of a natural, psychological adaptation in which the individual seeks to decrease their uncertainty about the factors or conditions that cause them to feel as they do.
Keywords: Risk perception, intuitive toxicology, illness perception, chemical exposure
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