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Categorizing Sources of Risk and the Estimated Magnitude of Risk

  • Juan Ignacio Aragonés (a1), Emilio Moyano (a2) and Fernando Talayero (a3)


The social perception of risk is considered a multidimensional task, yet little attention has been paid to the cognitive components that organize sources of risk, despite their having been discovered in various research studies. This study attempts to concretely analyze the cultural dimension involved in those processes. In the first phase, we tried to discover to what extent sources of risk are organized into the same categories by people from different countries. In order to do so, two groups of participants were formed: 60 Spanish psychology students and 60 Chilean psychology students classified 43 sources of risk into different groups according to the criteria they found appropriate. The two samples classified risk into identical groups: acts of violence, drugs, electricity and home appliances, household chemicals, chemicals in the environment, public construction projects, transportation, sports, and natural disasters. In a second study, 100 Spanish and 84 Chilean students were asked to evaluate the magnitude of the damage incurred by 17 sources of risk. In both groups, it was observed that the evaluation of damage resulting from each source of risk was affected by its category.

La percepción social del riesgo se considera una tarea multidimensional, sin embargo se ha prestado poca atención a los componentes cognitivos que organizan las fuentes del riesgo, a pesar de que se han descubierto en varios estudios de investigación. Concretamente, este estudio intenta analizar la dimensión cultural implicada en esos procesos. En primer lugar, intentamos descubrir hasta qué punto personas de diferentes países organizan las fuentes de riesgo en las mismas categorías. Para ello, se formaron dos grupos de participantes: 60 estudiantes de psicología españoles y 60 estudiantes de psicología chilenos clasificaron 43 fuentes de riesgo en diferentes grupos según los criterios más apropiados para ellos. Las dos muestras clasificaron el riesgo en grupos idénticos: actos de violencia, drogas, electricidad y electrodomésticos, productos químicos domésticos, productos químicos en el medioambiente, proyectos de construcción públicos, transporte, deportes y desastres naturales. En un segundo estudio, 100 estudiantes españoles y 84 chilenos evaluaron la magnitud del daño provocado por 17 fuentes de riesgo. En ambos grupos, se observó que la categoría afectaba la evaluación del daño resultante de cada fuente de riesgo.


Corresponding author

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Juan Ignacio Aragonés, Departamento Psicología Social, Facultad de Psicología, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Campus de Somosaguas, 28223, Madrid. Phone: +34-913942910 Fax: +34-913943189. E-mail:


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Categorizing Sources of Risk and the Estimated Magnitude of Risk

  • Juan Ignacio Aragonés (a1), Emilio Moyano (a2) and Fernando Talayero (a3)


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