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Keywords:

  • Risk perception;
  • individual differences;
  • risk concern;
  • experience

The dominance of the “psychometric” paradigm and the consequent emphasis on personality profiles of hazards has resulted in little attention being given to individual variability in risk judgments. This study examines how far differences in experience of risk activities can explain individual variability in risk assessments. A questionnaire study (n= 172) was used to explore the relationships between experience and risk perceptions in relation to 16 risk activities. It was expected that these relationships would differ for voluntary and involuntary activities. Measures of experience included assessments of “impact” and “outcome” valence as well as “frequency.” These three aspects of experience each related to risk assessment but their relationship depended on whether the risk experiences were voluntary or not. The results indicate the importance of developing more fine-grained ways of indexing risk experience.