Switzerland’s contemporary threat and risk landscape has changed in recent years. Indeed, the risks that now draw the attention of experts and policymakers now include cyber-attacks, pandemics, terrorist attacks and blackouts. But which risks do the Swiss public perceive as the most worrisome? How does risk perception differ between experts and members of the general population? Are risks perceived differently depending on whether they are natural, social or technical in origin? And what are the information needs of the Swiss public with regard to these threats? This CSS Risk and Resilience Report addresses these questions and more.
Based on the analyses conducted in this study, four important conclusions emerge:
- While people seem to be seeking more information about risks, and demonstrate higher levels of risk perception, these factors don’t necessarily correlate with increased knowledge about potential preparations, or actual preparation.
- As highlighted by previous work by the CSS, considering several key elements when developing risk information will likely improve the ability of the public to translate risk information into action.
- Focusing on demographic factors as drivers of information assimilation and action when developing risk communication messages and processes is insufficient. An understanding of the way demographic characteristics affect information seeking, preparedness knowledge and preparedness behavior must be mixed with a consideration of the way socio-cognitive factors affect people’s decisions. By combining both, risk communicators can reasonably develop effective and efficient risk communication resources.
- Proper preparedness requires planning. The study demonstrated that people who develop an emergency plan generally demonstrate higher levels of preparedness knowledge than people who report having an emergency supply of food and water.