Risk is the potential of gaining or losing something of value. Values
(such as physical health, social status, emotional well-being, or
financial wealth) can be gained or lost when taking risk resulting
from a given action or inaction, foreseen or unforeseen (planned or
Risk can also be defined as the intentional interaction
Uncertainty is a potential, unpredictable, and
uncontrollable outcome; risk is a consequence of action taken in spite
Risk perception is the subjective judgment people make about the
severity and probability of a risk, and may vary person to person. Any
human endeavour carries some risk, but some are much riskier than
1.1 International Organization for Standardization
2 Practice areas
2.1 Economic risk
2.3 Health, safety, and environment
2.4 Social aspects
2.5 Information technology and information security
2.7 Business and management
2.8 In human services
2.9 High reliability organisations (HROs)
2.11 Financial auditing
2.13 Human factors
2.14 Psychology of risk taking
Risk assessment and analysis
3.1 Quantitative analysis
3.2 Fear as intuitive risk assessment
4 Anxiety, risk and decision making
4.1 Fear, anxiety and risk
4.2 Consequences of anxiety
4.3 Dread risk
Anxiety and judgmental accuracy
5 Other considerations
Risk and uncertainty
Risk attitude, appetite and tolerance
Risk as a vector quantity
6 List of related books
7 See also
9.1 Referred literature
9.3 Articles and papers
10 External links
Firefighters at work
Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary cites the earliest use of the word in
English (in the spelling of risque from its from French original,
'risque' ) as of 1621, and the spelling as risk from 1655. It defines
(Exposure to) the possibility of loss, injury, or other adverse or
unwelcome circumstance; a chance or situation involving such a
Risk is an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has an
effect on at least one [project] objective. (This definition, using
project terminology, is easily made universal by removing references
The probability of something happening multiplied by the resulting
cost or benefit if it does. (This concept is more properly known as
the 'Expectation Value' or '
Risk Factor' and is used to compare levels
The probability or threat of quantifiable damage, injury, liability,
loss, or any other negative occurrence that is caused by external or
internal vulnerabilities, and that may be avoided through preemptive
Finance: The possibility that an actual return on an investment will
be lower than the expected return.
Insurance: A situation where the probability of a variable (such as
burning down of a building) is known but when a mode of occurrence or
the actual value of the occurrence (whether the fire will occur at a
particular property) is not.(Reference needed) A risk is not an
uncertainty (where neither the probability nor the mode of occurrence
is known), a peril (cause of loss), or a hazard (something that makes
the occurrence of a peril more likely or more severe).
Securities trading: The probability of a loss or drop in value.
Trading risk is divided into two general categories: (1) Systematic
risk affects all securities in the same class and is linked to the
overall capital-market system and therefore cannot be eliminated by
diversification. Also called market risk. (2) Non-systematic risk is
any risk that isn't market-related. Also called non-market risk,
extra-market risk or diversifiable risk.
Workplace: Product of the consequence and probability of a hazardous
event or phenomenon. For example, the risk of developing cancer is
estimated as the incremental probability of developing cancer over a
lifetime as a result of exposure to potential carcinogens
International Organization for Standardization
International Organization for Standardization
International Organization for Standardization publication ISO
31000 (2009) / ISO Guide 73:2002 definition of risk is the 'effect of
uncertainty on objectives'. In this definition, uncertainties include
events (which may or may not happen) and uncertainties caused by
ambiguity or a lack of information. It also includes both negative and
positive impacts on objectives. Many definitions of risk exist in
common usage, however this definition was developed by an
international committee representing over 30 countries and is based on
the input of several thousand subject matter experts.
Very different approaches to risk management are taken in different
fields, e.g. "
Risk is the unwanted subset of a set of uncertain
outcomes" (Cornelius Keating).
Risk can be seen as relating to the probability of uncertain future
events. For example, according to Factor Analysis of Information
Risk, risk is: the probable frequency and probable magnitude of
future loss. In computer science this definition is used by The Open
OHSAS (Occupational Health & Safety Advisory Services) defines
risk as the combination of the probability of a hazard resulting in an
adverse event, and the severity of the event.
In information security risk is defined as "the potential that a given
threat will exploit vulnerabilities of an asset or group of assets and
thereby cause harm to the organization".
Financial risk is often defined as the unpredictable variability or
volatility of returns, and this would include both potential
better-than-expected and worse-than-expected returns. References to
negative risk below should be read as also applying to positive
impacts or opportunity (e.g. for "loss" read "loss or gain") unless
the context precludes this interpretation.
The related terms "threat" and "hazard" are often used to mean
something that could cause harm.
Risk is ubiquitous in all areas of life and risk management is
something that we all must do, whether we are managing a major
organisation or simply crossing the road. When describing risk
however, it is convenient to consider that risk practitioners operate
in some specific practice areas.
Economic risks can be manifested in lower incomes or higher
expenditures than expected. The causes can be many, for instance, the
hike in the price for raw materials, the lapsing of deadlines for
construction of a new operating facility, disruptions in a production
process, emergence of a serious competitor on the market, the loss of
key personnel, the change of a political regime, or natural disasters.
Risks in personal health may be reduced by primary prevention actions
that decrease early causes of illness or by secondary prevention
actions after a person has clearly measured clinical signs or symptoms
recognised as risk factors. Tertiary prevention reduces the negative
impact of an already established disease by restoring function and
reducing disease-related complications. Ethical medical practice
requires careful discussion of risk factors with individual patients
to obtain informed consent for secondary and tertiary prevention
efforts, whereas public health efforts in primary prevention require
education of the entire population at risk. In each case, careful
communication about risk factors, likely outcomes and certainty must
distinguish between causal events that must be decreased and
associated events that may be merely consequences rather than causes.
In epidemiology, the lifetime risk of an effect is the cumulative
incidence, also called incidence proportion over an entire
Health, safety, and environment
In terms of occupational health & safety management, the term
'risk' may be defined as the most likely consequence of a hazard,
combined with the likelihood or probability of it occurring.
Health, safety, and environment (HSE) are separate practice areas;
however, they are often linked. The reason for this is typically to do
with organizational management structures; however, there are strong
links among these disciplines. One of the strongest links between
these is that a single risk event may have impacts in all three areas,
albeit over differing timescales. For example, the uncontrolled
release of radiation or a toxic chemical may have immediate short-term
safety consequences, more protracted health impacts, and much
longer-term environmental impacts. Events such as Chernobyl, for
example, caused immediate deaths, and in the longer term, deaths from
cancers, and left a lasting environmental impact leading to birth
defects, impacts on wildlife, etc.
Over time, a form of risk analysis called environmental risk analysis
has developed. Environmental risk analysis is a field of study that
attempts to understand events and activities that bring risk to human
health or the environment.
Human health and environmental risk is the likelihood of an adverse
outcome (See adverse outcome pathway). As such, risk is a function of
hazard and exposure.
Hazard is the intrinsic danger or harm that is
posed, e.g. the toxicity of a chemical compound. Exposure is the
likely contact with that hazard. Therefore, the risk of even a very
hazardous substance approaches zero as the exposure nears zero, given
a person's (or other organism's) biological makeup, activities and
location (See exposome). Another example of health risks are when
certain behaviours, such as risky sexual behaviours, increase the
likelihood of contracting HIV.
Individual risk perception and risk taking can also be influenced by
social factors. A study using representative household data in the US,
Italy and Austria finds evidence that risk taking levels can be
influenced by the immediate social environment and by the welfare
regime of a state (i.e. different support networks). The study also
finds that these factors can interact.. Cass Sunstein holds that
risk not only is a social construct, but also a correct diagnosis is
vital to understand its evolution. State should appeal to the net of
experts to avoid populism or risk-neglect, which consists in biased
information respecting to the probabilities of risk.
Information technology and information security
Main article: IT risk
Information technology risk, or IT risk, IT-related risk, is a risk
related to information technology. This relatively new term was
developed as a result of an increasing awareness that information
security is simply one facet of a multitude of risks that are relevant
to IT and the real world processes it supports.
The increasing dependencies of modern society on information and
computers networks (both in private and public sectors, including
military) has led to new terms like
IT risk and
Information assurance and Information security
Information security means protecting information and information
systems from unauthorised access, use, disclosure, disruption,
modification, perusal, inspection, recording or destruction.
Information security grew out of practices and procedures of computer
Information security has grown to information assurance (IA) i.e. is
the practice of managing risks related to the use, processing,
storage, and transmission of information or data and the systems and
processes used for those purposes.
While focused dominantly on information in digital form, the full
range of IA encompasses not only digital but also analogue or physical
Information assurance is interdisciplinary and draws from multiple
fields, including accounting, fraud examination, forensic science,
management science, systems engineering, security engineering, and
criminology, in addition to computer science.
IT risk is narrowly focused on computer security, while
information security extends to risks related to other forms of
information (paper, microfilm).
Information assurance risks include
the ones related to the consistency of the business information stored
in IT systems and the information stored by other means and the
relevant business consequences.
Insurance is a risk treatment option which involves risk sharing. It
can be considered as a form of contingent capital and is akin to
purchasing an option in which the buyer pays a small premium to be
protected from a potential large loss.
Insurance risk is often taken by insurance companies, who then bear a
pool of risks including market risk, credit risk, operational risk,
interest rate risk, mortality risk, longevity risks, etc.
Business and management
Means of assessing risk vary widely between professions. Indeed, they
may define these professions; for example, a doctor manages medical
risk, while a civil engineer manages risk of structural failure. A
professional code of ethics is usually focused on risk assessment and
mitigation (by the professional on behalf of client, public, society
or life in general).
In the workplace, incidental and inherent risks exist. Incidental
risks are those that occur naturally in the business but are not part
of the core of the business. Inherent risks have a negative effect on
the operating profit of the business.
In human services
The experience of many people who rely on human services for support
is that 'risk' is often used as a reason to prevent them from gaining
further independence or fully accessing the community, and that these
services are often unnecessarily risk averse. "People's autonomy
used to be compromised by institution walls, now it's too often our
risk management practices", according to John O'Brien. Michael
Fischer and Ewan Ferlie (2013) find that contradictions between formal
risk controls and the role of subjective factors in human services
(such as the role of emotions and ideology) can undermine service
values, so producing tensions and even intractable and 'heated'
High reliability organisations (HROs)
A high reliability organisation (HRO) is an organisation that has
succeeded in avoiding catastrophes in an environment where normal
accidents can be expected due to risk factors and complexity. Most
studies of HROs involve areas such as nuclear aircraft carriers, air
traffic control, aerospace and nuclear power stations. Organizations
such as these share in common the ability to consistently operate
safely in complex, interconnected environments where a single failure
in one component could lead to catastrophe. Essentially, they are
organisations which appear to operate 'in spite' of an enormous range
Some of these industries manage risk in a highly quantified and
enumerated way. These include the nuclear power and aircraft
industries, where the possible failure of a complex series of
engineered systems could result in highly undesirable outcomes. The
usual measure of risk for a class of events is then: R = probability
of the event × the severity of the consequence.
The total risk is then the sum of the individual class-risks; see
In the nuclear industry, consequence is often measured in terms of
off-site radiological release, and this is often banded into five or
six-decade-wide bands.[clarification needed]
The risks are evaluated using fault tree/event tree techniques (see
safety engineering). Where these risks are low, they are normally
considered to be "broadly acceptable". A higher level of risk
(typically up to 10 to 100 times what is considered broadly
acceptable) has to be justified against the costs of reducing it
further and the possible benefits that make it tolerable—these risks
are described as "Tolerable if ALARP", where
ALARP stands for "as low
as reasonably practicable". Risks beyond this level are classified as
The level of risk deemed broadly acceptable has been considered by
regulatory bodies in various countries—an early attempt by UK
government regulator and academic
F. R. Farmer used the example of
hill-walking and similar activities, which have definable risks that
people appear to find acceptable. This resulted in the so-called
Farmer Curve of acceptable probability of an event versus its
The technique as a whole is usually referred to as probabilistic risk
assessment (PRA) (or probabilistic safety assessment, PSA). See
WASH-1400 for an example of this approach.
Main article: Financial risk
In finance, risk is the chance that the return achieved on an
investment will be different from that expected, and also takes into
account the size of the difference. This includes the possibility of
losing some or all of the original investment. In a view advocated by
Damodaran, risk includes not only "downside risk" but also "upside
risk" (returns that exceed expectations). Some regard the standard
deviation of the historical returns or average returns of a specific
investment as providing some historical measure of risk; see modern
Financial risk may be market-dependent, determined
by numerous market factors, or operational, resulting from fraudulent
behaviour (e.g. Bernard Madoff).
A fundamental idea in finance is the relationship between risk and
return (see modern portfolio theory). The greater the potential return
one might seek, the greater the risk that one generally assumes. A
free market reflects this principle in the pricing of an instrument:
strong demand for a safer instrument drives its price higher (and its
return correspondingly lower) while weak demand for a riskier
instrument drives its price lower (and its potential return thereby
higher). For example, a US Treasury bond is considered to be one of
the safest investments. In comparison to an investment or speculative
grade corporate bond, US Treasury notes and bonds yield lower rates of
return. The reason for this is that a corporation is more likely to
default on debt than the US government. Because the risk of investing
in a corporate bond is higher, investors are offered a correspondingly
higher rate of return.
A popular risk measure is
There are different types of VaR: long term VaR, marginal VaR, factor
VaR and shock VaR. The latter is used in measuring risk during the
extreme market stress conditions.
In finance, risk has no single definition.
Artzner et al. write "we call risk the investor's future net
worth". In Novak "risk is a possibility of an undesirable event".
In financial markets, one may need to measure credit risk, information
timing and source risk, probability model risk, operational risk and
legal risk if there are regulatory or civil actions taken as a result
of "investor's regret".
With the advent of automation in financial markets, the concept of
"real-time risk" has gained a lot of attention. Aldridge and
Krawciw define real-time risk as the probability of instantaneous
or near-instantaneous loss, and can be due to flash crashes, other
market crises, malicious activity by selected market participants and
other events. A well-cited example of real-time risk was a US $440
million loss incurred within 30 minutes by Knight Capital Group (KCG)
on 1 August 2012; the culprit was a poorly-tested runaway algorithm
deployed by the firm. Regulators have taken notice of real-time risk
as well. Basel III requires real-time risk management framework
for bank stability.
It is not always obvious if financial instruments are "hedging"
(purchasing/selling a financial instrument specifically to reduce or
cancel out the risk in another investment) or "speculation"
(increasing measurable risk and exposing the investor to catastrophic
loss in pursuit of very high windfalls that increase expected value).
Some people may be "risk seeking", i.e. their utility function's
second derivative is positive. Such an individual willingly pays a
premium to assume risk (e.g. buys a lottery ticket).
Main article: Audit risk
The financial audit risk model expresses the risk of an auditor
providing an inappropriate opinion (or material misstatement) of a
commercial entity's financial statements. It can be analytically
displaystyle text AR = text IR times text CR times text DR
where AR is audit risk, IR is inherent risk, CR is control risk and DR
is detection risk.
Note: As defined, audit risk does not consider the impact of an
auditor misstatement and so is stated as a simple probability. The
impact of misstatement must be considered when determining an
acceptable audit risk.
AT YOUR OWN RISK
Security risk management involves protection of assets from harm
caused by deliberate acts. A more detailed definition is: "A security
risk is any event that could result in the compromise of
organizational assets i.e. the unauthorized use, loss, damage,
disclosure or modification of organizational assets for the profit,
personal interest or political interests of individuals, groups or
other entities constitutes a compromise of the asset, and includes the
risk of harm to people. Compromise of organizational assets may
adversely affect the enterprise, its business units and their clients.
As such, consideration of security risk is a vital component of risk
Decision theory and Prospect theory
One of the growing areas of focus in risk management is the field of
human factors where behavioural and organizational psychology underpin
our understanding of risk based decision making. This field considers
questions such as "how do we make risk based decisions?", "why are we
irrationally more scared of sharks and terrorists than we are of motor
vehicles and medications?"
In decision theory, regret (and anticipation of regret) can play a
significant part in decision-making, distinct from risk aversion
(preferring the status quo in case one becomes worse off).
Framing is a fundamental problem with all forms of risk
assessment. In particular, because of bounded rationality (our brains
get overloaded, so we take mental shortcuts), the risk of extreme
events is discounted because the probability is too low to evaluate
intuitively. As an example, one of the leading causes of death is road
accidents caused by drunk driving – partly because any given driver
frames the problem by largely or totally ignoring the risk of a
serious or fatal accident.
For instance, an extremely disturbing event (an attack by hijacking,
or moral hazards) may be ignored in analysis despite the fact it has
occurred and has a nonzero probability. Or, an event that everyone
agrees is inevitable may be ruled out of analysis due to greed or an
unwillingness to admit that it is believed to be inevitable. These
human tendencies for error and wishful thinking often affect even the
most rigorous applications of the scientific method and are a major
concern of the philosophy of science.
All decision-making under uncertainty must consider cognitive bias,
cultural bias, and notational bias: No group of people assessing risk
is immune to "groupthink": acceptance of obviously wrong answers
simply because it is socially painful to disagree, where there are
conflicts of interest.
Framing involves other information that affects the outcome of a risky
decision. The right prefrontal cortex has been shown to take a more
global perspective while greater left prefrontal activity relates
to local or focal processing.
From the Theory of Leaky Modules McElroy and Seta proposed that
they could predictably alter the framing effect by the selective
manipulation of regional prefrontal activity with finger tapping or
monaural listening. The result was as expected. Rightward tapping
or listening had the effect of narrowing attention such that the frame
was ignored. This is a practical way of manipulating regional cortical
activation to affect risky decisions, especially because directed
tapping or listening is easily done.
Psychology of risk taking
A growing area of research has been to examine various psychological
aspects of risk taking. Researchers typically run randomised
experiments with a treatment and control group to ascertain the effect
of different psychological factors that may be associated with risk
taking. Thus, positive and negative feedback about past risk taking
can affect future risk taking. In an experiment, people who were led
to believe they are very competent at decision making saw more
opportunities in a risky choice and took more risks, while those led
to believe they were not very competent saw more threats and took
The concept of risk-based maintenance is an advanced form of
Reliability centred maintenance. In case of chemical industries, apart
from probability of failure, consequences of failure is also very
important. Therefore, the selection of maintenance policies should be
based on risk, instead of reliability. Risk-based maintenance
methodology acts as a tool for maintenance planning and decision
making to reduce the probability of failure and its consequences. In
risk-based maintenance decision making, the maintenance resources can
be used optimally based on the risk class (high, medium, or low) of
equipment or machines, to achieve tolerable risk criteria.
Closely related to information assurance and security risk,
cybersecurity is the application of system security engineering in
order to address the compromise of company cyber-assets required for
business or mission purposes. In order to address cyber-risk,
cybersecurity applies security to the supply chain, the design and
production environment for a product or service, and the product
itself in order to provide efficient and appropriate security
commensurate with the value of the asset to the mission or business
Risk assessment and analysis
Risk assessment and Operational risk management
Since risk assessment and management is essential in security
management, both are tightly related. Security assessment
CRAMM contain risk assessment modules as an
important part of the first steps of the methodology. On the other
hand, risk assessment methodologies like
Mehari evolved to become
security assessment methodologies. An ISO standard on risk management
(Principles and guidelines on implementation) was published under code
ISO 31000 on 13 November 2009.
There are many formal methods used to "measure" risk.
Often the probability of a negative event is estimated by using the
frequency of past similar events. Probabilities for rare failures may
be difficult to estimate. This makes risk assessment difficult in
hazardous industries, for example nuclear energy, where the frequency
of failures is rare, while harmful consequences of failure are severe.
Statistical methods may also require the use of a cost function, which
in turn may require the calculation of the cost of loss of a human
life. This is a difficult problem. One approach is to ask what people
are willing to pay to insure against death or radiological release
(e.g. GBq of radio-iodine), but as the answers depend
very strongly on the circumstances it is not clear that this approach
Risk is often measured as the expected value of an undesirable
outcome. This combines the probabilities of various possible events
and some assessment of the corresponding harm into a single value. See
also Expected utility. The simplest case is a binary possibility of
Accident or No accident. The associated formula for calculating risk
probability of the accident occurring
expected loss in case of the accident
displaystyle text R =( text probability of the accident
occurring )times ( text expected loss in case of the accident )
For example, if performing activity X has a probability of 0.01 of
suffering an accident of A, with a loss of 1000, then total risk is a
loss of 10, the product of 0.01 and 1000.
Situations are sometimes more complex than the simple binary
possibility case. In a situation with several possible accidents,
total risk is the sum of the risks for each different accident,
provided that the outcomes are comparable:
For all accidents
probability of the accident occurring
expected loss in case of the accident
displaystyle text R =sum _ text For all accidents ( text
probability of the accident occurring )times ( text expected loss in
case of the accident )
For example, if performing activity X has a probability of 0.01 of
suffering an accident of A, with a loss of 1000, and a probability of
0.000001 of suffering an accident of type B, with a loss of 2,000,000,
then total loss expectancy is 12, which is equal to a loss of 10 from
an accident of type A and 2 from an accident of type B.
One of the first major uses of this concept was for the planning of
Delta Works in 1953, a flood protection program in the
Netherlands, with the aid of the mathematician David van Dantzig.
The kind of risk analysis pioneered there has become common today in
fields like nuclear power, aerospace and the chemical industry.
In statistical decision theory, the risk function is defined as the
expected value of a given loss function as a function of the decision
rule used to make decisions in the face of uncertainty.
Fear as intuitive risk assessment
People may rely on their fear and hesitation to keep them out of the
most profoundly unknown circumstances. Fear is a response to perceived
Risk could be said to be the way we collectively measure and
share this "true fear"—a fusion of rational doubt, irrational fear,
and a set of unquantified biases from our own experience.
The field of behavioural finance focuses on human risk-aversion,
asymmetric regret, and other ways that human financial behaviour
varies from what analysts call "rational".
Risk in that case is the
degree of uncertainty associated with a return on an asset.
Recognizing and respecting the irrational influences on human decision
making may do much to reduce disasters caused by naive risk
assessments that presume rationality but in fact merely fuse many
Anxiety, risk and decision making
Fear, anxiety and risk
According to one set of definitions, fear is a fleeting emotion
ascribed to a particular object, while anxiety is a trait of fear
(this is referring to "trait anxiety", as distinct from how the term
"anxiety" is generally used) that lasts longer and is not attributed
to a specific stimulus (these particular definitions are not used by
all authors cited on this page). Some studies show a link between
anxious behaviour and risk (the chance that an outcome will have an
unfavorable result). Joseph Forgas introduced valence based
research where emotions are grouped as either positive or negative
(Lerner and Keltner, 2000). Positive emotions, such as happiness, are
believed to have more optimistic risk assessments and negative
emotions, such as anger, have pessimistic risk assessments. As an
emotion with a negative valence, fear, and therefore anxiety, has long
been associated with negative risk perceptions. Under the more recent
appraisal tendency framework of Jennifer Lerner et al., which refutes
Forgas' notion of valence and promotes the idea that specific emotions
have distinctive influences on judgments, fear is still related to
Psychologists have demonstrated that increases in anxiety and
increases in risk perception are related and people who are habituated
to anxiety experience this awareness of risk more intensely than
normal individuals. In decision-making, anxiety promotes the use
of biases and quick thinking to evaluate risk. This is referred to as
affect-as-information according to Clore, 1983. However, the accuracy
of these risk perceptions when making choices is not known.
Consequences of anxiety
Experimental studies show that brief surges in anxiety are correlated
with surges in general risk perception.
Anxiety exists when the
presence of threat is perceived (Maner and Schmidt, 2006). As risk
perception increases, it stays related to the particular source
impacting the mood change as opposed to spreading to unrelated risk
factors. This increased awareness of a threat is significantly
more emphasised in people who are conditioned to anxiety. For
example, anxious individuals who are predisposed to generating reasons
for negative results tend to exhibit pessimism. Also, findings
suggest that the perception of a lack of control and a lower
inclination to participate in risky decision-making (across various
behavioural circumstances) is associated with individuals experiencing
relatively high levels of trait anxiety. In the previous instance,
there is supporting clinical research that links emotional evaluation
(of control), the anxiety that is felt and the option of risk
There are various views presented that anxious/fearful emotions cause
people to access involuntary responses and judgments when making
decisions that involve risk. Joshua A. Hemmerich et al. probes deeper
into anxiety and its impact on choices by exploring "risk-as-feelings"
which are quick, automatic, and natural reactions to danger that are
based on emotions. This notion is supported by an experiment that
engages physicians in a simulated perilous surgical procedure. It was
demonstrated that a measurable amount of the participants' anxiety
about patient outcomes was related to previous (experimentally
created) regret and worry and ultimately caused the physicians to be
led by their feelings over any information or guidelines provided
during the mock surgery. Additionally, their emotional levels,
adjusted along with the simulated patient status, suggest that anxiety
level and the respective decision made are correlated with the type of
bad outcome that was experienced in the earlier part of the
experiment. Similarly, another view of anxiety and decision-making
is dispositional anxiety where emotional states, or moods, are
cognitive and provide information about future pitfalls and rewards
(Maner and Schmidt, 2006). When experiencing anxiety, individuals draw
from personal judgments referred to as pessimistic outcome appraisals.
These emotions promote biases for risk avoidance and promote risk
tolerance in decision-making.
It is common for people to dread some risks but not others: They tend
to be very afraid of epidemic diseases, nuclear power plant failures,
and plane accidents but are relatively unconcerned about some highly
frequent and deadly events, such as traffic crashes, household
accidents, and medical errors. One key distinction of dreadful risks
seems to be their potential for catastrophic consequences,
threatening to kill a large number of people within a short period of
time. For example, immediately after the 11 September attacks,
many Americans were afraid to fly and took their car instead, a
decision that led to a significant increase in the number of fatal
crashes in the time period following the 9/11 event compared with the
same time period before the attacks.
Different hypotheses have been proposed to explain why people fear
dread risks. First, the psychometric paradigm suggests that high
lack of control, high catastrophic potential, and severe consequences
account for the increased risk perception and anxiety associated with
dread risks. Second, because people estimate the frequency of a risk
by recalling instances of its occurrence from their social circle or
the media, they may overvalue relatively rare but dramatic risks
because of their overpresence and undervalue frequent, less dramatic
risks. Third, according to the preparedness hypothesis, people are
prone to fear events that have been particularly threatening to
survival in human evolutionary history. Given that in most of
human evolutionary history people lived in relatively small groups,
rarely exceeding 100 people, a dread risk, which kills many people
at once, could potentially wipe out one's whole group. Indeed,
research found that people's fear peaks for risks killing around
100 people but does not increase if larger groups are killed. Fourth,
fearing dread risks can be an ecologically rational strategy.
Besides killing a large number of people at a single point in time,
dread risks reduce the number of children and young adults who would
have potentially produced offspring. Accordingly, people are more
concerned about risks killing younger, and hence more fertile,
Anxiety and judgmental accuracy
The relationship between higher levels of risk perception and
"judgmental accuracy" in anxious individuals remains unclear (Joseph
I. Constans, 2001). There is a chance that "judgmental accuracy" is
correlated with heightened anxiety. Constans conducted a study to
examine how worry propensity (and current mood and trait anxiety)
might influence college student's estimation of their performance on
an upcoming exam, and the study found that worry propensity predicted
subjective risk bias (errors in their risk assessments), even after
variance attributable to current mood and trait anxiety had been
removed. Another experiment suggests that trait anxiety is
associated with pessimistic risk appraisals (heightened perceptions of
the probability and degree of suffering associated with a negative
experience), while controlling for depression.
Risk and uncertainty
In his seminal work Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit,
Frank Knight (1921)
established the distinction between risk and uncertainty.
Uncertainty must be taken in a sense radically distinct from the
familiar notion of Risk, from which it has never been properly
separated. The term "risk," as loosely used in everyday speech and in
economic discussion, really covers two things which, functionally at
least, in their causal relations to the phenomena of economic
organization, are categorically different. ... The essential fact is
that "risk" means in some cases a quantity susceptible of measurement,
while at other times it is something distinctly not of this character;
and there are far-reaching and crucial differences in the bearings of
the phenomenon depending on which of the two is really present and
operating. ... It will appear that a measurable uncertainty, or "risk"
proper, as we shall use the term, is so far different from an
unmeasurable one that it is not in effect an uncertainty at all. We
... accordingly restrict the term "uncertainty" to cases of the
Knightian uncertainty is immeasurable, not possible to
calculate, while in the Knightian sense risk is measurable.
Another distinction between risk and uncertainty is proposed by
Uncertainty: The lack of complete certainty, that is, the existence of
more than one possibility. The "true" outcome/state/result/value is
Measurement of uncertainty: A set of probabilities assigned to a set
of possibilities. Example: "There is a 60% chance this market will
double in five years"
Risk: A state of uncertainty where some of the possibilities involve a
loss, catastrophe, or other undesirable outcome.
Measurement of risk: A set of possibilities each with quantified
probabilities and quantified losses. Example: "There is a 40% chance
the proposed oil well will be dry with a loss of $12 million in
exploratory drilling costs".
In this sense, one may have uncertainty without risk but not risk
without uncertainty. We can be uncertain about the winner of a
contest, but unless we have some personal stake in it, we have no
risk. If we bet money on the outcome of the contest, then we have a
risk. In both cases there are more than one outcome. The measure of
uncertainty refers only to the probabilities assigned to outcomes,
while the measure of risk requires both probabilities for outcomes and
losses quantified for outcomes.
Risk attitude, appetite and tolerance
The terms risk attitude, appetite, and tolerance are often used
similarly to describe an organisation's or individual's attitude
towards risk-taking. One's attitude may be described as risk-averse,
risk-neutral, or risk-seeking.
Risk tolerance looks at
acceptable/unacceptable deviations from what is
Risk appetite looks at how much risk
one is willing to accept. There can still be deviations that are
within a risk appetite. For example, recent research finds that
insured individuals are significantly likely to divest from risky
asset holdings in response to a decline in health, controlling for
variables such as income, age, and out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Gambling is a risk-increasing investment, wherein money on hand is
risked for a possible large return, but with the possibility of losing
it all. Purchasing a lottery ticket is a very risky investment with a
high chance of no return and a small chance of a very high return. In
contrast, putting money in a bank at a defined rate of interest is a
risk-averse action that gives a guaranteed return of a small gain and
precludes other investments with possibly higher gain. The possibility
of getting no return on an investment is also known as the rate of
Risk as a vector quantity
Hubbard also argues that defining risk as the product of impact and
probability presumes, unrealistically, that decision-makers are
risk-neutral.[page needed] A risk-neutral person's utility is
proportional to the expected value of the payoff. For example, a
risk-neutral person would consider 20% chance of winning
$1 million exactly as desirable as getting a certain $200,000.
However, most decision-makers are not actually risk-neutral and would
not consider these equivalent choices. This gave rise to prospect
theory and cumulative prospect theory. Hubbard proposes to instead
describe risk as a vector quantity that distinguishes the probability
and magnitude of a risk. Risks are simply described as a set or
function[vague] of possible payoffs (gains or losses) with their
associated probabilities. This array is collapsed into a scalar value
according to a decision-maker's risk tolerance.
List of related books
This is a list of books about risk issues.
Baruch Fischhoff, Sarah Lichtenstein, Paul Slovic, Steven L. Derby,
and Ralph Keeney
Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk
Peter L. Bernstein
At risk: Natural hazards, people's vulnerability and disasters
Piers Blaikie, Terry Cannon, Ian Davis, and Ben Wisner
Building Safer Communities.
Risk Governance, Spatial Planning and
Responses to Natural Hazards
Urbano Fra Paleo
Dangerous Earth: An introduction to geologic hazards
Barbara W. Murck, Brian J. Skinner, Stephen C. Porter
Disasters and Democracy
Rutherford H. Platt
Earth Shock: Hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes and other
forces of nature
W. Andrew Robinson
Human System Response to Disaster: An Inventory of Sociological
Thomas E. Drabek
Judgment Under Uncertainty: heuristics and biases
Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovic, and Amos Tversky
Mapping Vulnerability: disasters, development, and people
Greg Bankoff, Georg Frerks, and Dorothea Hilhorst
Man and Society in Calamity: The Effects of War, Revolution, Famine,
Pestilence upon Human Mind, Behavior, Social Organization and Cultural
Mitigation of Hazardous Comets and Asteroids
Michael J.S. Belton, Thomas H. Morgan, Nalin H. Samarasinha, Donald K.
Natural Disaster Hotspots: a global risk analysis
Hazard Mitigation: Recasting disaster policy and planning
David Godschalk, Timothy Beatley, Philip Berke, David Brower, and
Edward J. Kaiser
Natural Hazards: Earth’s processes as hazards, disasters, and
Edward A. Keller, and Robert H. Blodgett
Normal Accidents. Living with high-risk technologies
Paying the Price: The status and role of insurance against natural
disasters in the United States
Howard Kunreuther, and Richard J. Roth
Planning for Earthquakes: Risks, politics, and policy
Philip R. Berke, and Timothy Beatley
Risk Management: The ATOM Methodology
David Hillson and Peter Simon
Reduction and Predictability of Natural Disasters
John B. Rundle, William Klein, Don L. Turcotte
Regions of Risk: A geographical introduction to disasters
Risk Analysis: a quantitative guide
Risk: An introduction (ISBN 978-0-415-49089-4)
Risk and Culture: An essay on the selection of technical and
Mary Douglas, and Aaron Wildavsky
Socially Responsible Engineering: Justice in
Daniel A. Vallero, and P. Aarne Vesilind
Swimming with Crocodiles: The Culture of Extreme Drinking
Marjana Martinic and Fiona Measham (eds.)
The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture and Deviance
The Environment as Hazard
Ian Burton, Robert Kates, and Gilbert F. White
The Social Amplification of Risk
Nick Pidgeon, Roger E. Kasperson, and Paul Slovic
What is a Disaster? New answers to old questions
Ronald W. Perry, and Enrico Quarantelli
Risk to Opportunity (IAHS Red Book Series)
Ali Chavoshian, and Kuniyoshi Takeuchi
Risk Factor: Why Every Organization Needs Big Bets, Bold
Characters, and the Occasional Spectacular Failure
Deborah Perry Piscione
Early case assessment
Event chain methodology
Fuel price risk management
Global catastrophic risk
Risk Forum GRF Davos
Inherent risk (accounting)
Risk Governance Council
Probabilistic risk assessment
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Number: C081 Published by The Open Group, January 2009.
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hazardous event or exposure(s) and the severity of injury or ill
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^ noun. The state of being protected against the criminal or
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this. 'But despite the number of agencies involved, cybersecurity
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^ Joshua A. Hemmerich, Arthur S. Elstein, Margaret L. Schwarze,
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Tom Kendrick (2003). Identifying and Managing Project Risk: Essential
Tools for Failure-Proofing Your Project. AMACOM/American Management
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Kim Heldman (2005). Project Manager's Spotlight on
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