Risk Perception Survey

The Risk Perception Survey is used to collect data on attitudes towards risk and uncertainty. It is part of a PhD candidature study on the influence of perception on decision making.

The Survey is a research instrument designed to be accessed by a cohort under experimental conditions. The questionnaire is available by invitation only.


Risk is the effect of uncertainty on objectives. A rational decision should maximise utility and/or avert loss, however observed behaviour contradicts prevailing Decision under Uncertainty theories:

  • Expected Utility: people choose the highest expected value
  • Prospect Theory: people have aversion of losses

Utility of an alternative appears to be weighted by its “disutility” (the combined utility of the discarded options). The concept of disutility is based on the probability parameters of the alternative. Four types of disutility have been identified:

  • Uncertainty: variance of outcome
  • Ambiguity: spread of the variance
  • Spread: distribution of outcomes
  • Coalescence: distortion of extreme values

Research Questions

Conceptual Research Question

What explains decisions under uncertainty?

Operational Research Question

Is decision under uncertainty explained by the perception of disutility?

Supplementary Questions

Is preference explained by a unique disutility?

Is preference under multiple uncertainties explained by a dominant disutility?

Experimental Design

  • The experiment uses hypothetical alternatives of small monetary gains and losses with forced choices between dichotomous outcomes
  • The dependent variable is the proportion of choices of one alternative
  • The four types of disutility are studied independently
  • Each selection is analysed in terms of the situational consistency between the perceived value of the choice and the expected utility
  • Behavioural responses are elicited by situationally involving participants in the outcome, and rational responses are obtained by outcome disassociation
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