Simulation modelling as a theory building tool: The formation of risk perceptions

Mercedes Bleda, Simon Shackley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper presents a computer based simulation model which analyses the dynamics of public perceptions of risk using Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) ('mad cow disease') in the UK as a case study. The model is based upon a theoretically-derived understanding of the concept of perception of risk, and employs Cultural Theory and the archetypes it identifies as distinctive forms of social organization and cultural bias in the formation of perceptions. Cultural Theory is used as a theoretical lens for understanding the different interpretations of the risk associated with BSE/nvCJD, the subsequent risk amplification by the media, and the effect of trust and reliance in science and government in their construction. The analysis helps achieve a better understanding of the dynamics of public perceptions of risk, and it is therefore of interest both for academics and policy makers. In particular, the model allows exploring the influence that the occurrence of risk-related events, their media coverage, and trust in government responses has in the process by which people construct their risk perceptions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation
Volume15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • BSE
  • Cultural theory
  • Risk perceptions
  • Simulation modeling

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