D Duckett, J S Busby, S Onggo
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D Duckett, J S Busby, S Onggo Lancaster University. The social amplification of risk & zoonotic disease outbreaks. Department of Management Science, Lancaster University. Social amplification of risk Laypeople not going along with expert assessment A source of disproportionate response

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The social amplification of risk & zoonotic disease outbreaks

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The social amplification of risk zoonotic disease outbreaks

D Duckett, J S Busby, S Onggo

Lancaster University

The social amplification of risk & zoonotic disease outbreaks

Department of Management Science, Lancaster University


The social amplification of risk zoonotic disease outbreaks

  • Social amplification of risk

  • Laypeople not going along with expert assessment

    • A source of disproportionate response

    • An obstacle to progress

    • The need to manage the ‘issue’ (Leiss 2001) as well as substance

  • The Social Amplification of Risk Framework (Kasperson et al 1988)

    • Signals that get magnified or diminished

    • Secondary or ripple effects that are generated

    • Applied with apparent success to BSE, WJD, SARS...

  • The trouble with SARF

    • The idea of a real, ‘accurate’ risk that’s amplified (Rayner 1988)

    • The implication that amplification should be overcome (Rip 1988)

    • The response (Kasperson et al 2003) as a motte-&-bailey defence


The social amplification of risk zoonotic disease outbreaks

  • Social amplification of risk

  • Keeping amplification but only as an attribution (Busby et al, 2009)

    • Can produce objective outcomes: polarised risk perceptions

    • Helps explain how people resist systematically different views

    • Encourages reflexive understanding

      • Not ‘X is amplifying’ but ‘why is X attributing attenuation to us?’

      • Important when people understand risks socially

  • A project applying this idea to zoonotic disease outbreaks

    • Fieldwork looking at how people explain their responses to risk

    • Simulation modelling exploring the consequences of amplification

    • Funded by EPSRC jointly with NCZR

Social actors

Risk

input to

attribute

Amplification of risk

Social processes

produces

to

Amplified risk

Other social actors


The social amplification of risk zoonotic disease outbreaks

  • Fieldwork: how people talk about risk & amplification

  • A natural starting point to look at attributions in discourse surrounding risk

  • Qualitative analysis of rich textual data in which people make sense of

  • zoonotic cases

    • Lay Focus Groups

      • PhD students from management related disciplines

      • Veterinarian PhD students

      • Retired lay people

      • Mothers of young children

    • Expert individual & group interviews

      • Regulators

      • Farming interests

      • Epidemiologists

      • Virologists

      • Veterinarians

      • Science journalists


The social amplification of risk zoonotic disease outbreaks

  • Fieldwork: categories of attribution

  • Several forms of amplification attribution are evident in the data

Consequence

Retrospective

Corrective

Ancillary

Gap

Anticipatory

Media

Transboundary

Maverick-led

Plot

Actors constructing amplification labels

Other actors as objects of amplification labels and as authors of counter-claims


The social amplification of risk zoonotic disease outbreaks

  • Fieldwork: important points

  • Amplification is relational

    • Social relationships determine how risk responses are viewed as

    • amplified or attenuated & are often contested

  • Amplification often then attributed as an instrumental strategy

    • Eg informercial campaigns, import/export policies, media headlines

  • Authoritative and lay assessments are by no means equal

    • But authorities may benefit from understanding attributions to them


The social amplification of risk zoonotic disease outbreaks

  • Modelling social risk amplification as an attribution

  • A 2-actor system dealing with a single event

    • Both actors form risk judgments based on same datum

    • But also taking account of the other’s expressed risk beliefs

    • And correcting for remembered, perceived amplifications

Memory of public amplification

Industry

+

Amplification

attributed to public

Communicated risk level

+

+

Independent risk level

+

Espoused risk level

Amplification attributed to industry

+

+

+

Corrected risk level

Memory of industry amplification

+

Public


The social amplification of risk zoonotic disease outbreaks

  • Modelling social risk amplification as an attribution

  • This is unstable

    • The 2 actors’ risk levels diverge strongly over time

    • Following eg changes in datum and anticipations

    • Although memory limits lead to saturation of polarisation

    • Simple refinements preserve instability

      • Delays & imperfections in observation and remembering

      • Other actors assumed to distort in opposite sense

Risk level 10-0

10-1

10-2

10-3

10-4

10-5

10-6

Public

Industry

Independent

Time


The social amplification of risk zoonotic disease outbreaks

  • Modelling social risk amplification as an attribution

  • Stability only when actors accept other views uncritically

    • Despite shared datum

    • And memory reset at the start of the event

  • No attempt at calibration so timescales uninformative

    • Sensitivity of critical time for polarisation to reach threshold

    • Exogenous factors (discounting, anticipation) have little effect


The social amplification of risk zoonotic disease outbreaks

  • Modelling social risk amplification as an attribution

  • Adding features

    • Endogenising the weighting given to others’ beliefs

      • Reflecting the role of distrust (eg Frewer 2003)

        • Determined by perceived distortion, bias, wrongness

      • And perception of confusion (eg Bergeron and Sanchez, 2005)

        • Determined by rate of change of risk belief

    • Capturing the link to and effect of behaviour

      • Perception affects demand, exposure & assessment

      • Assumed to be corrective

      • Action may be easy yet seem disproportionate (Rip 2006)


The social amplification of risk zoonotic disease outbreaks

  • Modelling social risk amplification as an attribution

  • Adding features

    • Endogenising the weighting given to others’ beliefs

      • Reflecting the role of distrust (eg Frewer 2003)

        • Determined by perceived distortion, bias, wrongness

      • And perception of confusion (eg Bergeron and Sanchez, 2005)

        • Determined by rate of change of risk belief

    • Capturing the link to and effect of behaviour

      • Perception affects demand, exposure & assessment

      • Assumed to be corrective

      • Action may be easy yet seem disproportionate (Rip 2006)

Memory of public amplification

Industry

+

Amplification

attributed to public

Communicated risk level

+

Amenity demand subsystem

+

Independent risk level

+

Espoused risk level

Amplification attributed to industry

+

+

+

Corrected risk level

Distrust & confusion subsystem

Memory of industry amplification

+

Public


The social amplification of risk zoonotic disease outbreaks

  • Modelling social risk amplification as an attribution

  • Now distrust and confusion limit & even overcome polarisation

Risk level 10-2

10-3

10-4

10-5

Public

Industry

Independent

Time


The social amplification of risk zoonotic disease outbreaks

  • Conclusion

  • Social risk amplification looks important for managing outbreaks

    • Supporting idea that risk beliefs can be systematically mistaken

  • But it’s hard to accept it as an objective description

    • Based on the distortion of a true level of risk

  • Moving to the idea of amplification as a subjective attribution...

    • Shows structure: different categories & significance

    • Has consequences: likely polarisation with saturation

  • And suggests for policy makers...

    • The need to be careful in anticipating distortion among publics

    • The value of asking why others attribution amplification to you


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