Risks of Risk Decisions

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Science  06 Jun 1980:
Vol. 208, Issue 4448, pp. 1114-1119
DOI: 10.1126/science.208.4448.1114


The analytical approaches utilized for evaluating the acceptability of technological risk originate from analogies to financial cost-benefit risk analysis. These analogies appear generally valid for viewing risk from a societal basis, but are not applicable to individual risk assessments. Conflicts arising from these different views of risk assessment provide insights to the origins of individual, intuitive evaluations. Societal risk decisions made under conflict represent political compromises, and the resulting decision process creates substantial conflict costs. The pragmatic use of quantitative risk criteria (safety targets) may be useful in reducing these costs.