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Situated Food Safety Risk and the Influence of Social Norms


Veflen, Nina; Scholderer, Joachim; Langsrud, Solveig (2020). Situated Food Safety Risk and the Influence of Social Norms. Risk Analysis, 40(5):1092-1110.

Abstract

Previous studies of risk behavior observed weak or inconsistent relationships between risk perception and risk‐taking. One aspect that has often been neglected in such studies is the situational context in which risk behavior is embedded: Even though a person may perceive a behavior as risky, the social norms governing the situation may work as a counteracting force, overriding the influence of risk perception. Three food context studies are reported. In Study 1 (N = 200), we assess how norm strength varies across different social situations, relate the variation in norm strength to the social characteristics of the situation, and identify situations with consistently low and high levels of pressure to comply with the social norm. In Study 2 (N = 502), we investigate how willingness to accept 15 different foods that vary in terms of objective risk relates to perceived risk in situations with low and high pressure to comply with a social norm. In Study 3 (N = 1,200), we test how risk‐taking is jointly influenced by the perceived risk associated with the products and the social norms governing the situations in which the products are served. The results indicate that the effects of risk perception and social norm are additive, influencing risk‐taking simultaneously but as counteracting forces. Social norm had a slightly stronger absolute effect, leading to a net effect of increased risk‐taking. The relationships were stable over different social situations and food safety risks and did not disappear when detailed risk information was presented.

Abstract

Previous studies of risk behavior observed weak or inconsistent relationships between risk perception and risk‐taking. One aspect that has often been neglected in such studies is the situational context in which risk behavior is embedded: Even though a person may perceive a behavior as risky, the social norms governing the situation may work as a counteracting force, overriding the influence of risk perception. Three food context studies are reported. In Study 1 (N = 200), we assess how norm strength varies across different social situations, relate the variation in norm strength to the social characteristics of the situation, and identify situations with consistently low and high levels of pressure to comply with the social norm. In Study 2 (N = 502), we investigate how willingness to accept 15 different foods that vary in terms of objective risk relates to perceived risk in situations with low and high pressure to comply with a social norm. In Study 3 (N = 1,200), we test how risk‐taking is jointly influenced by the perceived risk associated with the products and the social norms governing the situations in which the products are served. The results indicate that the effects of risk perception and social norm are additive, influencing risk‐taking simultaneously but as counteracting forces. Social norm had a slightly stronger absolute effect, leading to a net effect of increased risk‐taking. The relationships were stable over different social situations and food safety risks and did not disappear when detailed risk information was presented.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Informatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
Health Sciences > Physiology (medical)
Language:English
Date:27 January 2020
Deposited On:25 Nov 2020 10:54
Last Modified:26 Nov 2020 21:00
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0272-4332
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/risa.13449
Related URLs:https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/risa.13449
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:20053

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