In the communication between scientists and lay people about risk one can observe that the normative models of risk implicitly applied by scientists and the subjective perception of risk by lay people do not fit together. However, this communicative gap cannot be mended by a better scientific education for lay people because it can be shown that scientists in perceiving their respective personal risks exhibit the same kind of inconsistencies normally attributed to lay people. It is suggested not to reduce the complexity of risk to simplifying quantitative values but to use this complexity as a starting point for a rational argumentation about the underlying nets of causes and effects. This perspective seems to be unavoidable especially for those situations where scientists talk about risk and by means of their argumentation influence the future chain of actions events and effects. It is argued that a scientist can only accountably communicate with the general public if he/she takes into account the qualitative aspects of risk as well as the quantitative aspects.
Keywords: assessment, communication, quantitative models, risk perception
Short Title: Zimmer, A. (1997) PsyBeit 1-2:14Prof. Dr. Alf Zimmer
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