Public Perceptions of Risk in Relation to Large Scale Environmental Projects: A Multi-Attribute Decision Making Method

  • Joan Harvey
  • Peter Norman
  • Sharon Joyce
Conference paper


Increasingly, societal and public concerns are forcing organizations to take a wider view of engineering design and decision-making and to engage with major projects in a way that they had not anticipated, e.g. Shell and the Brent Spar[l]. Perceptions of trust and decisions about scientific issues are changing and are becoming more empowered and widely publicised scientific uncertainties and disagreements have had a profound impact on public confidence [1, 2, 3]. Engineering design decisions are often made using expertise of design engineers, project managers and external regulatory and advisory authorities. There are not only ethical reasons for the public to be represented but also their perception of the risks may add information and local knowledge to the decision model [2, 4]. Allowing the public to participate in decision making reassures them that the right decisions are being made and allows for greater predictability as their reactions can be assessed much earlier in the design process avoiding any backlash at a later, and costlier, stage [1].


Anchor Point Public Perception Linguistic Term Multiple Attribute Decision Making Probabilistic Safety Assessment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Rice T and Owen P (1999) Decommissioning the Brent Spar. E and FN SponGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Barr C (1996) Fear Not: The Art of Risk Communication Journal of Management in Engineering 12 Jan-Feb pp 18-22Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Harvey J & Erdos G (2002) An empirical study of protein consumption and attitudes to genetically modified food. Risk Decision and Policy. Vol 7: pp 81–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Green Alliance (2001) Decision making under scientific uncertainty: the case of mobile phones. June 2001 Green AllianceGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Carter P and Jackson N (1992) The Perception of Risk. In: J Ansell and F Wharton (eds) Risk: analysis and management: Chichester: John WileyGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Martorell S, Carlos S et al., (2003) An approach to aggregate public opinions and experts’ judgement with application to risk perception of sources of electrical supply. In (eds) T Bedford and PHAJM van Gelder Safety and Reliability. Lisse: Swets and ZeitlingerGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Slovic P, Lichtenstein S and Fischoff B (1984) Modelling the Societal Impact of Fatal Accidents. Management Science 30(4) pp 464–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sen P and Yang JB (1998) Multiple Criteria Decision Support in Engineering Design. Netherlands: Springer-VerlagCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Zahed L (1973) Outline of a new approach to the analysis of complex systems and decision processes. IEEE Transactions, Systems, Man and Cybernetics Vol 3, part 1: pp28–44Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Harvey J, Joyce S and Norman P (2002) Taking Public Perceptions of Risk into Account in Engineering Design for Sustainable Development: a Multi-attribute Decision Making Framework, In [ed] B Hon Proceedings of 1st Int Conf on Design & Manufacture for Sustainability, Liverpool 27–28th June 2002: pp 123-132Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Herrera F, Herrera-Viedma E & Verdegay JL (1996) Direct approach processes in group decision making using Linguistic OWA operators. Fuzzy Sets and Systems 79: pp 175–190CrossRefMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Oppenheim AN (1994) Questionnaire design, interviews and attitude measurement. London: PitmanGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Valls, A and Torra V (2000) Using classification as an aggregation tool in MCDM. Fuzzy Sets and Systems 115 pp 159–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Herrera F and Verdegay JL (1997) Fuzzy sets and operations research: perspectives. Fuzzy Sets and Systems 90 pp 207–218CrossRefMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Renn O, Burns WJ, Kasperson JX, Kasperson RE, Slovic P (1992) The social amplification of risk — theoretical foundations and empirical applications Journal of social issues Vol 48(4): pp 137–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hogg MA and Vaughan GM (2002) Social Psychology. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education 3rd edGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Stoyell J L, Norman P, Howarth CR & Vaughan R, (1999) Results of a Questionnaire Investigation on the Management of Environmental Issues during Conceptual Design: A Case Study of two large Made-to-Order Companies. Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol 7 No. 6 pp 457–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan Harvey
    • 1
  • Peter Norman
    • 1
  • Sharon Joyce
    • 1
  1. 1.Engineering Design CentreUniversity of Newcastle upon TyneUK

Personalised recommendations