Risk Perception

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This section contains definitions of Risk Perception and the notion of Subjective Risk. The concepts of Risk Perception and Risk Tolerance, while unique, are very much linked. [1]

Other relevant terms of note are Optimism Bias and Illusion of Control.


European Definitions


Risk perception si the way in which a stakeholder [G.50] views a risk [G.27], based on a set of values or concerns. (ISO/IEC Guide 73) [2]

Risk perception depends on the stakeholder’s needs, issues and knowledge. Risk perception can differ from objective data.

Other International Definitions

National Definitions


Percepción del riesgo: Construcción social que está relacionada con la interacción de diversos factores: económicos, políticos, culturales, institucionales, subjetivos y del ecosistema. Estos factores influyen y condicionan la forma en que las personas valoran los efectos que producen los riesgos, haciendo que cada individuo perciba, interprete y valore de manera diferente los riesgos y sus consecuencias. [3]


Percepção do risco:
1. Impressão ou juízo intuitivo sobre a natureza e a magnitude de um determinado risco.
2. Percepção sobre a importância ou gravidade de um determinado risco, com base no repertório de conhecimento que o indivíduo acumulou, durante o seu desenvolvimento cultural, e sobre o juízo político e moral de sua significação. [4]

Perception of risk:
1. Impression or intuitive judgment about the nature and magnitude of a given risk.
2. Perception about the importance or severity of a given risk, based on the repertoire of knowledge that the individual accumulated during his / her cultural development, and on the political and moral judgment of its significance.


Risk Perception is a stakeholder's view on a risk. [5]

Note: Risk perception reflects the stakeholder's needs, issues, knowledge, beliefs and values.

United States

Risk perception is a subjective judgment about the characteristics and/or severity of risk. [6]

Standard Definition

ISO Guide 73:2009(en)

Stakeholder's view on a risk. [7]

Note: Risk perception reflects the stakeholder's needs, issues, knowledge, belief and values.

Academic Definitions

Subjective Risk/ Risk perception is the estimated probability people have that a specific type of negative event could happen and how affected they are by the consequences. [8] [9]

An individual perception of risk includes a subjective risk estimate [10] which is heavily influenced (and not limited to) the following factors [11][12]: type of risk (e.g. nature and features of the disaster), individual characteristics (e.g. personality, personal experience with a similar disaster, training and education), social context (e.g. publicity and communication), and cultural values (e.g. trust in authorities).

Risk perception is the ability of an individual to discern a certain amount of risk. [1]


Subjective risk is a social construct and is defined in opposition with the “objective risk” or “real risk”. [13] It usually refers to the judgment of non-experts (lay people, members of the general public, civil population) since their perception of risk is likely to be different compared to experts. [14] Risk perception by experts is usually labeled “Risk Assessment”. Experts tend to estimate risk in a more objective analytic and rational way based on scientific and technological knowledge [15] However, there are studies showing that even experts can commit estimation errors when they cannot rely on consistent data. [16] However, average citizens are more likely to have more distorted perceptions and to be under a higher influence of cognitive biases and heuristics.


Risicoperceptie: De manier waarop risico's worden geïnterpreteerd en gewaardeerd. Vaak hebben experts een heel andere risicoperceptie dan leken ten aanzien van hetzelfde risico. Beslissers moeten zich bewust zijn van de beleving van risico's bij het nemen van beslissingen. [17]

See also



  1. 1.0 1.1 Campbell Institute (2014). Risk perception: Theories, strategies and next steps.
  2. ENISA Risk Glossary
  5. All Hazards Risk Assessment Methodology Guidelines 2012-2013, Public Safety Canada
  6. DHS Risk Lexicon 2010 Edition, September 2010
  7. ISO Guide 73:2009 Risk management -- Vocabulary
  8. Sjöberg, L. (2000). Factors in risk perception. Risk Analysis, 20, 1-11.
  9. Sjöberg, L. (2003). Risk perception is not what it seems: The psychometric paradigm revisited. In K. Andersson (Ed.), VALDOR Conference 2003 (pp. 14-29). Stockholm: VALDOR.
  10. Yates, J.F. (1992). Risk-taking behavior. London: John Wiley & Sons
  11. Cooper, D. (2003). Psychology, risk & safety: Understanding how personality & perception can influence risk taking. Professional Safety, 39-46.
  12. Hofer, J. (2016). Report on risk perception. Deliverable D32.1 for Driver Project (http://driver-project.eu/content/report-risk-perception)
  13. Slovic, P. (1992). Perception of risk: reflections on the psychometric paradigm, in Krimsky, S., & Golding, D. (Eds.), Social Theories of Risk, Praeger, Westport, 117-152.
  14. Bostrom, A. (1997). Risk perceptions: ‘Experts’ vs. ‘Lay people,’ Duke Environmental Law Policy Forum, 8(101), 101-113.
  15. Sjöberg, L. (1999). Risk Perception by the Public and by Experts: A Dilemma in Risk Management, Human Ecology Revenue, 6(2), 1-9.
  16. van der Pligt, J. (1996). Judgement and Decision Making. In R. G. Semin & K. Fiedler, Applied Social Psychology (pp 30-64).
  17. Cybersecurity Woordenboek 2021