Symposia and round table sessions

Outlines for mini-symposia and round table sessions

The following mini-symposia and round table sessions will take place at the Annual Meeting 2009 in Karlstad:


Symposium: Visualisation of Risk: Opportunities for Public Engagement and Communication   

Monday 29th June 11.00-12.30


Visual imagery is a prominent aspect of contemporary culture. Every time we read a newspaper, turn on the TV or browse the internet we are continually bombarded with visual information. This in turn is likely to influence how individuals use visual information to engage with and understand complex risk issues. The social sciences, however, have yet to majorly engage with the impact of visuals on the way people think about their worlds. As a consequence, there is growing empirical interest exploring the role this information has for both understanding and communication of risk. It is also important, at a more theoretical level, to identify how visual information is used given the strong affective component researchers attribute risk perception processes. Does visual imagery ‘position’ individuals to respond and think about risk in particular ways? What emotions are associated when viewing one image over another? Can seeing really mean believing? The aim of this symposium is to bring together researchers to investigate these questions. Presentations will address a variety of risks but all have a specific interest in visual imagery and visualisation of risk more broadly.


  • Disgust, imagery, and precautionary advice: Their impact on the risk perceptions of being bitten by ticks.
    Julie Barnett, Afrodita Marcu & Anna Mikolajek, University of Surrey, UK
  • The power of visual material: persuasion, emotion and identification.
    Helene Joffe, University College London, UK
  • Using visual imagery to communicate global warming risk.
    Nicholas Smith, University College London, UK
  • Social representations of ticks in words vs. images: A multiple sorting procedure approach
    Afrodita Marcu, Julie Barnett & Marta Brodzinska, University of Surrey
  • Envisioning engagement: a longitudinal study of representations of renewable energy technologies within UK newspapers.
    Hannah Devine-Wright, University of Manchester, UK

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Risk Psychology, Environment and Safety: The RIPENSA-symposium   

Monday 28th June 14.30-16.00 and continued 16.30-18.00


The presentations and discussions in this symposium cover recent research results from risk psychology, environment and safety reflecting the broad scope of the RIPENSA research team’s collaboration and production. The scope involves individuals’ everyday risks, emotions, reactions and behaviour, studies of collective actions or community reactions related to risk and safety issues, health outcomes in social interaction and work environments as well as behaviours in the face of global environmental, or security, threats. The RIPENSA team aims at specialisation as well as collaboration to produce insights and practices of complementary aspects to risk, environmental and safety issues. Therefore the approaches include the development of basic theory related to various theoretical perspectives, a broad range of utilized methodologies, and experimental as well as empirical testing and fields studies.

In the first paper Lennart Sjöberg focuses on emotions and the current conceptual confusion regarding the definitions of central concepts used to explain human reactions and behaviour in relation to central risk perception theories. In the following paper Christian Klöckner outlines driving forces behind human decision-making and action. He links the Comprehensive Action Determination Model (CADM) to how individuals relate to the risk of climate change and decide on the actions they want to take. Mons Bendixen and Ute Gabriel present results on how sexual risk behaviour and sexual harassment relate to health outcomes in young people. The sexual risk – health outcome association is of central interest in the study. In the following paper Marit Christensen outlines how downsizing in a cornerstone industry, internal reorganisation and aspects of the psychosocial environment affect employees’ job satisfaction in community services. She points out the varying importance of psychosocial factors for job satisfaction in different work circumstances. Tone Aasen and Gunhild Åm Vatn report from a field study which investigated neighbours’ concerns regarding a refuse incineration plant and suggested plans to increase the capacity of the facility. They point at health concerns, but also to concerns involving noice, smell, traffic, safety and esthetics. Britt-Marie Drottz-Sjöberg and Jørn Vatn present community reactions to a planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) industrial application. The suggested placement of a LNG storage tank in a harbour area, together with scarce initial risk anlysis and public information, as well as highlighted media reports developed concerns about public safety as well as about the procedural handling of the process. J. Peter Burgess focuses on how security is financed, and discusses how costs and values are linked on the basis of a 2004 European Union report. How do European agencies make the calculation that permits them to put a price on human life and to differentiate that cost from one European member state to another?

These presentations and questions provide some input to the following discussion in the session. In highlighting examples from different perspectives we wish to embrace the complexity of real life situations and reflect the many important dimensions of the RIPENSA arena, e.g. individuals’ perceptions and reactions in large or collective systems, the functions of emotions and values in individual as well as international and global decision-making and policy, the interrelationsships between risk estimates or analysis and social systems and cultural frameworks.

Chair: Britt-Marie Drottz-Sjöberg


  • The Place of Emotions in a World of Risks.
    Lennart Sjöberg, Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden
  • Understanding the Driving Forces behind Climate Behaviour of Individuals.
    Christian Klöckner, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
  • Sexual Risk Behavior, Sexual Harassment and Health Outcomes.
    Mons Bendixen & Ute Gabriel, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway. ;
  • Job Satisfaction and Perceived Risks in Municipality Services related to Reorganization and Downsizing.
    Marit Christensen, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology,Norway
  • Concerned Neighbours to a refuse Incineration Plant.
    Tone Aasen, NTNU, Department of Psychology,N-7491 Trondheim, Norway. 
    Gunhild Åm Vatn, Language and Communication Studies, NTNU. University of Science and Technology, N-7491 Trondheim, Norway
  • Community Reactions to the Development of a LNG Plant
    Britt-Marie Drottz-Sjöberg, Risk Psychology, Environment and Safety, RIPENSA, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway.
    Jørn Vatn, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
  • The cost of danger and value of security: The EU study on aviation security financing
    J. Peter Burgess, RIPENSA

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Round Table: Siting sensitive projects   

Tuesday 30th June 11.00-12.30


The roundtable will describe how social acceptance in sensitive industrial projects is a key success factor which must be properly managed and cautiously looked after. Anyway, social acceptance relies both over legal regulations and social options to be set up and followed up by public authorities on a case by case basis. The subject will be tackled through a comparison of partnerships developed in Belgium and Slovenia in order to site a repository for low and medium- level short-leved waste  (LILW)  and a cross examination with a French case of siting a different industry, rendering plant, also with a local partnership.

The roundtable will be an opportunity to :

  • present general context, technical background and choices in siting two similar sensitive projects of radioactive waste management :  disposal of low and medium-level short-lived waste  (LILW) in two countries, Belgium and Slovenia,
  • comparing some steps and key issues with an other kind of sensitive project, a rendering plant in France,
  • present expectations  from a local partnership representative view point
  • draw comparisons and common good practices in managing such upstream part of a technical project.


  • Nadja Železnik, ARAO  (Slovenia) :              
  • Evelyn Hooft , NIRAS/ONDRAF (Belgium) :        
  • Jean-François David, Compagnie Nationale des Experts de Justice en Environnement:   (France)
  • Stakeholder representative (local Belgian partnership) to be determined

The steps of the round table will link up as follows:

STEP 1 : Context and history

From hard science to soft science, from technology to social expertise, listening and understanding, how to insert soft sciences in a technical project and how to listen to citizens. Building local partnerships are well recognized frameworks for involvement and participation of local stakeholders ; those partnership obey to several steps developing inside pre established frameworks which will be described.


  • Belgian experience and model: Evelyn Hooft
  • Slovenian experience and model: Nadja Železnik
  • French experience, a rendering plant needing to be relocated outside a urban area: Jean-François David

STEP 2 : Social and political approach along with local partnership

The history and live of partnerships  will be described in a comparative approach with rule of the games, mutual apprenticeship between public agencies and local partners, pros and cons, process description. A SWOT analysis will be presented for both projects to back the comparison and make it more understandable, stressing the differences and similarities. The typology and number of partners, the mapping of their social expectations will be described.


  • Belgian experience : 
  • NIRAS/ONDRAF: Evelyn Hooft
  • Why did we accept the partnership:  a local stakeholder (local Belgian partnership)
  • Slovenian experience Nadja Železnik

STEP 3 : Lessons learned

From SWOT analysis, the results for each partnership will be considered : what type of recognition, both at local level and at governmental leve,l for each project, purposes and roadmap. Process calendar and time spans will  also be subjects of comparisons. Differences and common rules will be drawn from those different approaches and siting processes. Beyond that keys success factors and pitfalls will be listed.

Some key success factors :

  • local and national involvement in future projects
  • freedom and wide access of stakeholders, fulfilling their expectations
  • keeping the balance between a project management system and a loose schedule : no hurry, we can listen to everybody  and prepare sound answers
  • keeping at bay predetermined scientific and technical imperialism.

Pitfalls to avoid :

  • conflicting leaderships,
  • a weak communication scheme.


  • Slovenian experience: Nadja Železnik
  • Belgian experience:  Evely Hooft and local stake holder
  • Cross examination through French experience: Jean-François David

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Symposium: Results of the International Study of the Effects of Information about Precautionary Measures on Risk Perceptions of Mobile Telephony (ISEP)

Tuesday 30th June 11.00-12.30

Symposium Authors (in alphabetical order): Alvarez J, Barnett J, Boerner F, Clauberg M, Croft R, da Silva Medeiros FN, de Villiers B, Diaz A, Gutteling JM, Kemp R, Kikkawa T, Schuetz H, Shukla R, Wiedemann PM

Symposium Presenters (in chronological order): Peter Wiedemann, Julie Barnett, Rodney Croft, Flavia Natércia da Silva Medeiros, (Martin Clauberg and/or Franziska Boerner –as facilitator(s) for a discussion round at the end of the presentations)

Symposium Abstract

When risks are unclear or highly controversial, precautionary measures are called for to reduce the potential for risks and also oftentimes to primarily affect risk perceptions. Understanding how risk perceptions are influenced by precautionary measures is a critical component of the efforts to improve risk communication strategies and, indeed, risk management practices. In a multi-national (9 +3 nation) research project, survey experimental studies were performed to obtain crucial scientific data related to understanding trust, risk and benefit perception of mobile communication technology by the general public in regards to the issue of precautionary measures towards both mobile phones and base stations. Contrary to the prevailing assumption that implementation of precautionary measures, or more precisely communicating or informing about taking such precautionary measures, will increase trust, alleviate fears, and reduce risk perceptions in the general public, previous findings from Western & Middle European countries indicated that the opposite effect may be observed. Preliminary data analyses for the ISEP study in these countries support the previous observations. Various theoretical hypotheses may be posited to explain this countervailing effect. To verify whether this effect holds true across larger sample sizes and across different cultures and countries, an international comparative study was performed in nine countries using a standardized survey instrument that, however, was culturally adapted. Initial comparative analyses indicate that a countervailing effect may not be observed in all the ISEP partner nations. Survey variables included the information about the level of precautionary measure, the basic intention behind implementing it, and the order of addressing base stations and mobile phones. Respondents rated their perceived risks, organizational trust, and benefits, and in addition self-reporting their own mobile phone usage patterns. The international results are comparatively presented in four talks that provide a project overview with discussions of the coordinated sampling and data collection approach, followed by separate presentations of the comparative findings for the perception of risk, trust, and benefits. The implications of the results are not only important for improving the understanding of risk perception and risk communication, but may have significant ramifications for risk management.

Abstract 1 

Title: International Study of the Effects of information about Precautionary measures on risk perceptions of mobile telephony (ISEP): Project overview, coordinated sampling approach, and international comparisons.

Authors (in alphabetical order): Alvarez J, Barnett J, Boerner F, Clauberg M, Croft R, da Silva Medeiros FN, de Villiers B, Diaz A, Gutteling JM, Kemp R, Kikkawa T, Schuetz H, Shukla R, Wiedemann PM*

Abstract 2

Title: International Study of the Effects of information about Precautionary measures on risk perceptions of mobile telephony (ISEP): Effects of survey experimental variables on risk perceptions and international comparisons.

Authors: Alvarez J, Barnett J*, Boerner F, Clauberg M, Croft R, da Silva Medeiros FN, de Villiers B, Diaz A, Gutteling JM, Kemp R, Kikkawa T, Schuetz H, Shukla R, Wiedemann PM

Abstract 3

Title: International Study of the Effects of information about Precautionary measures on risk perceptions of mobile telephony (ISEP): Variations in organizational trust as function of survey experimental variables.

Authors: Alvarez J, Barnett J, Boerner F, Clauberg M, Croft R*, da Silva Medeiros FN, de Villiers B, Diaz A, Gutteling JM, Kemp R, Kikkawa T, Schuetz H, Shukla R, Wiedemann PM

Abstract 4

Title: International Study of the Effects of information about Precautionary measures on risk perceptions of mobile telephony (ISEP): Benefit perceptions and usage patterns and their correlation to risk perception in international comparison.

Authors: Alvarez J, Barnett J, Boerner F, Clauberg M, Croft R, da Silva Medeiros FN*, de Villiers B, Diaz A, Gutteling JM, Kemp R, Kikkawa T, Schuetz H, Shukla R, Wiedemann PM

* Presenting author

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An Information Assurance Perspective on future Risks with Technologies for Security and Safety 

Tuesday 30th June 13.30-15.00

The growing dependence on, and interconnection of, technical systems in critical infrastructures has resulted in growing risks in society. One of the emerging issues is the intertwining of security and safety. The classic approach to risk assessment of single systems is no longer applicable as highly complex systems of systems are created. This, for instance, raises new challenges on information assurance and hence calls for novel security risk assessment methods that contribute to increased confidence in and understanding of such technologies.

Moderator: Daniel Haglund, MSB


  • Åke J Holmgren, MSB information assurance section
  • Erland Jonsson, Chalmers University of Technology
  • Jan Skogqvist, IT auditor, Handelsbanken

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Education Symposium of the SRA Education Committee

Wednesday 1st July  9.00-10.30

This symposium proposal is focused on the education initiatives of the Society for Risk Analysis’ Education Committee (EduComm) and will present the initiatives of the SRA’s EduComm as well as supported education-based presentations. The symposium is comprised of an overview of accomplished as well as ongoing and upcoming initiatives. In addition, three (3) standalone presentations of education-related topics will be presented. A final discussion round will allow the audience to discuss risk-educational topics of interest.

Symposium Authors (in alphabetical order): Luis Cifuentes, Martin Clauberg, Leah Corr, David Hassenzahl, Garrick Louis, Tomas Oeberg, Carolyn Ross, Brandolyn Thran, John Watt, Peter Wiedemann

Symposium Presenters (in chronological order): Martin Clauberg, Tomas Öberg, Peter Wiedemann

Symposium abstract

The Education Committee (EduComm) of the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) has been chartered since December 2006 with the mission to “… provide guidance and support for individuals and institutions interested in teaching or learning risk analysis methods”. It is comprised of 20+ SRA members that have a common goal of fostering the educational resources and opportunities of the SRA membership and reaching out to students and teachers of risk analysis at all levels, from Kindergarten to University and beyond to adult professional training. This symposium will introduce the SRA EduComm and its ongoing and upcoming activities, with a focus on how participants can draw upon the resources and become involved in the activities of the EduComm.

After an overview of the goals and constitutive membership of the EduComm, a brief review of the accomplished initiatives of the EduComm will be followed by presentations of the ongoing and upcoming initiatives, which will be followed by three sponsored presentations of examples of European risk education perspectives. Accomplished projects include establishment of general risk analysis training workshops at Annual Meetings of SRA in the US and development of video excerpts of these workshops, coordination of symposia at various SRA meetings, and completion of data collection of a member survey on risk education programmes. Upcoming and ongoing initiatives include the First Risk Analysis in Education Conference in Reno, Nevada, USA on July 13-15th, 2009 and the development of a collection of online risk tutorials, among other activities of the EduComm. These latter initiatives will be presented in depth.

The results of the SRA Membership Survey on Risk Education Programmes will be presented and discussed in full detail in one of three standalone presentations of examples of European risk education perspectives. A presentation of a Swedish experience in teaching the concepts of variability and uncertainty in environmental risk analysis will provide insights into the challenges and approaches for university-based teaching. The third standalone presentation will focus on risk communication training in Germany from a theoretical and practical perspective. A final group / panel discussion round will allow for a free exchange of information and an opportunity for EduComm presenters to share their resource suggestions and address audience questions.  

Individual presentation titles

  • Overview and development of First Risk Analysis in Education Conference and collection of online risk tutorials.
  • Insights into the future of risk education from a survey of SRA members.
  • Experience in teaching the concepts of variability and uncertainty in environmental risk analysis.
  • Challenges for institutional education of risk communication for organizations in Germany.
  • Group / panel discussion.

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Symposium: Framing Climate Change and Energy Futures

Wednesday 1st July 11.00-12.30

DiscussantNick Pidgeon, Cardiff University


  • Alexa Spence, Cardiff University, 
  • Chris Jones, University of Sheffield, 
  • Dan Venables, Cardiff University, 
  • Karen Parkhill, Cardiff University

Climate change is an increasingly critical issue around the world and major changes within energy generation in Europe will be required in order to meet the related domestic carbon emission targets that have been set.  Public support is important in the successful risk management of related policy decisions and therefore the way that these public issues are debated, communicated and decided upon is crucial.  This symposium will examine public perceptions of climate change and energy futures within Britain, in particular considering the importance of the impact of framing on these perceptions.  The way that an issue is framed can have an important impact on perceptions and, for this reason, communications from stakeholders such as the government and energy companies have been scrutinised and at times criticised for the framings that they have employed.  Each of the papers presented as part of this symposium considers the impact of different frames on the way that climate change and energy sources are perceived.

Chris Jones will outline research that experimentally examined the impact of framing on the comparative favourability of nuclear power within Britain’s electricity generating mix.  Four different frames were utilised here, two pro-nuclear frames (climate change mitigation and increasing the security of energy supplies), one anti-nuclear frame (nuclear waste) and one neutral frame (how nuclear power produces electricity).  Participants were provided with textual information relating to one of these four frames before deciding the respective contributions that five key energy sources (coal, gas, nuclear, renewables, and electricity import) should make towards Britain’s electricity demand.  Participants then answered a series of questions assessing related socio-cognitive constructs including attitudes and beliefs about nuclear power.  Results indicated that whilst renewables were the most favoured of energy sources, framing had a significant impact on constructs measured; in particular the climate change mitigation frame appeared to increase support for future use of nuclear power.

A second experimental examination of framing will be presented by Alexa Spence however this paper focuses on framing climate change.  This research examined how framing climate change in terms of gain or loss outcomes or in terms of personal relevance can impact related perceptions.  Here, climate change was framed using text adapted from the most recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report on climate change impacts, modified to focus either on losses from climate change or gains from climate change mitigation.  In addition to this further text was utilised, alongside maps and images, in order to focus participants on either the personally relevant local or less personally relevant distant impacts of climate change.  Participants then completed measures of various relevant socio-cognitive factors and questions assessing their responses to the information that they had received.  Results indicated that the way that climate change is framed has important effects on the way that it is perceived and has significant implications for the way that climate change should be presented in different contexts.

Continuing the theme of concern about climate change, risk perception, and energy choices, Dan Venables will outline some of the results from a major questionnaire survey, conducted in summer 2008 with two communities situated in close proximity to a nuclear power station.  The questionnaire incorporated a scale designed to measure place attachment, alongside indicators of environmental concern, individual risk perceptions, trust, attitudes, and risk-benefit judgements in relation to the nearby nuclear power station.  Associations between key variables and constructs will be discussed with reference to factors such as place attachment, concern about climate change, and risk-benefit judgements with regard to the nearby nuclear power station. The results have implications both for existing theory and for current policy on the building and siting of new nuclear power stations in the UK. 

Karen Parkhill continues this theme with a further analysis of the way that proximity, space and place have an influence on perceptions of nuclear power risks.  Using biographical and narrative data, the way in which local residents living close to two nuclear power stations in the UK (Bradwell, Essex and Oldbury, South Gloucestershire) have come to view their local nuclear power station is explored. The interpretive, qualitative (thematic and discourse) analysis reveals how perceptions of the station are constructed through processes of familiarisation and/or the normalisation/normification of risk as part of everyday life.  The ordinariness of the power station is juxtaposed with moments of extraordinariness (the “nuclear uncanny”) in which due to direct and mediated events the power station is reconstructed as a risk issue leading to moments of anxiety which ebb and flow through interviewees’ lives.  Findings suggest that (nuclear) risk or ideas of what constitutes a possible threat, is open to renegotiation dependent on socio-cultural, political, geographical and biographical influences.  The significance of climate change and energy security discourses to interviewees’ perceptions of the local nuclear power stations will also be discussed.

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