Risk perception and risk behaviour in a heterogeneous society: The impact of basic values and experiences of vulnerability
Dep of Social Science Mid Sweden University Östersund, Sweden
Dep of social science Mid Sweden University Östersund, Sweden
The aim of this paper is to elucidate the complex patterns between sociocultural heterogeneity, risk perceptions and risk behaviour. It is well known that risk perception and risk behaviour varies between different segments of populations, e.g. men and women, minority and majority groups, young and old people, and people living in cities and on the countryside. Hence, this study focuses on the heterogeneity factors gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability in relation to risk perception and risk behaviour. However, this paper does not only identify if, and which, risk perceptions and behaviours that differs, but also analyses the underlying causal factors "general value" and "vulnerability" and their role in understanding sociocultural heterogeneity and risk.
The analyses were made with data from a Swedish national survey (Society and Values II) conducted as a postal questionnaire during autumn 2008. The dataset used in the analyses is composed of two representative samples of the Swedish population between the ages of 16 and 75: One national random sample (n=2000), and a random sample of people living in three residential areas with a relatively large population of people with foreign background (n=750).
The findings confirm earlier research in so far that there are differences both in risk perceptions and behaviour between the different groups. However, the differences are not general, that is, even though there are differences between e.g. native people and people with foreign backgrounds, there are examples of risk perception categories and behaviours that do not differ as well. Further, some differences, as between people with or without disabilities, disappear when values and experience of vulnerability is added to the analysis. The main conclusions are that heterogeneity factors such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability are important to understand people's reactions to risks but underlying factors such as values and vulnerability is more important to explain these reactions.