Communicating the risk of rare and very rare events: the impact of the way that probability information is presented on assessments and decisions

Principal Investigator
dr Katarzyna Idzikowska
Overall budget
30 486 PLN
Project duration
19.12.2019 - 18.12.2020
Funded by
National Centre for Science

Aim of the project One of the main goals of risk communication is to provide information so that people can adequately assess the risk and take appropriate risk management actions. Information about probability is one of the important components of risk communication. There is little information in the literature about studies that check how the processing of information about probability and the emotions evoked translate into the use of this information in elections. In particular, this relationship can be of great importance when low and very low probability (less than 1%) events are communicated where it is known that decision makers have a great difficulty using probabilistic risk information and often this information is simply ignored . In the planned study, the main dependent variable will be the sensitivity of the assessments to a change in the probability value (e.g. measured on the subjective risk scale or the anxiety aroused scale) depending on the presented probability format. At the same time, I would like to measure this sensitivity not only at the level of perception, but also in behavior, e.g. by checking the declared willingness to insure or by examining real decisions involving cash payments. Based on the literature review, I will compare the following formats: frequency (e.g. 10 out of 100), percentage (10%), graphic format (pictogram) and experience based format.

Expected results Information about the probability of risky events is an important element of the message, which should be carefully processed both in the risk assessment performed and in the action taken. The planned experiment is not only part of the research on risk communication, but will also be an introduction to a larger project on the relationship between risk assessments and behavior.


PhD Katarzyna Idzikowska