The graphic below & to the right (click for bigger view) reports perceptions of risk as measured in a U.S. general population survey last summer. The panel on the left reports sample-wide means; the one on the right, means by subpopulation identified by its cultural worldview.
Some things to note:
- Climate change (GWRISK) and private hand gun possession (GUNRISK) seem relatively low in overall importance but are highly polarized. This helps to illustrate that the political controversy surrounding a risk issue is determined much more by the latter than by the former.
- Emerging technologies: Synthetic biology (SYNBIO) and nanotechnology (NANO) are relatively low in importance and, even more critically, free of cultural polarization. This means they are pretty inert, conflict-wise. For now.
- Vaccines, schmaccines. Childhood vaccination risk (VACCINES) is lowest in perceived importance and has essentially zero cultural variance. This issue gets a lot of media hype in relation to its seeming importance.
- Holy s*** on distribution of illegal drugs (DRUGS)! Scarier than terrorism (!) and not even that polarized. (This nation won’t elect Ron Paul President.)
- Look at speech advocating racial violence (HATESPEECH). Huh!
- Marijuana distribution (MARYJRISK) and teen pregnancies (TEENPREG) feature hierarch-communitarian vs. egalitarian-individualist conflict. Not surprising.
Coming soon: cross-cultural cultural cognition! A comparison of US & UK.