Interdisciplinary Research Group 3: Risk Perception and Social Response

IRG3 Research Highlights

Will nanotechnologies experience public backlash and stigma when they are developed and disseminated that could limit the realization of their potential economic and/or social benefits? The answer to this deceptively simple question hinges on a complex set of social, political, economic, and cultural factors that are likely to drive sustainability and acceptance or controversy and failure. In addition to economic issues such as job creation or loss, primary focal points of public concern are likely to be risk, regulation, trust, responsibility, and justice, and the degree to which experts share, anticipate, and address these concerns is a powerful predictor of the likelihood of ensuing controversy.

IRG 3 conducts novel social research on formative nanotech risk and benefit perceptions through a well calibrated set of mixed qualitative and quantitative social science research methods aimed at studying the views and beliefs about emerging nanotechnologies by multiple parties. More

IRG 3 comprises: Barbara Herr Harthorn, PI and Group Leader; Nick Pidgeon, Group Co-Leader (Cardiff), Terre Satterfield , Group Co-Leader (University of British Columbia). Team members: Edwina Barvosa (UCSB), Christian Beaudrie (University of British Columbia), Bruce Bimber (UCSB), Francesca Bray (University of Edinburgh), Karl Bryant (SUNY-New Paltz), Meredith Conroy (Occidental College), Joseph Conti (University of Wisconsin), Lauren Copeland (UCSB), Adam Corner (Cardiff University), Rachel Cranfill (UCSB), Jennifer Earl (UCSB), Brenda Egolf (Lehigh University), Cassandra Engeman (UCSB), Sharon Friedman (Lehigh University), Robin Gregory (Decision Research),  Hillary Haldane (Quinnipiac University), Shannon Hanna (UCSB), Patricia Holden (UCSB), Milind Kandlikar (University of British Columbia), Miriam Metzger (UCSB), Anton Pitts (University of British Columbia), Jennifer Rogers-Brown (Long Island University), Christine Shearer (UCSB), Paul Slovic (Decision Research).

For a synthesis of IRG 3 research, see the report, Understanding Nanotechnologies' Risks and Benefits: Emergence, Expertise & Upstream Participation.

Research Projects: IRG3 researchers seek to understand the interplay of complex factors influencing public and expert perceptions of nanotechnologies through the following studies:

IRG 3-1: Expert Judgments about Nanotechnologies' Benefits and Risks - UBC, UCSB, Decision Research, Compass Resource Management

IRG 3-2: Emergent Public Perceptions of Benefits and Risks - UBC, Cardiff, UCSB, Decision Research

IRG 3-3: Public Participation in Nanotechnology: Upstream Public Engagement and Deliberation Research - UCSB, Cardiff, Long Island University, SUNY New Paltz

  • IRG 3-3a
  • IRG 3-3b

IRG 3-4: Nanomaterials Industry Risk Perception and Practices - UCSB, UBC

IRG 3-5: Framing of Nano in the Media (X-IRG) - Lehigh Univ

IRG 3-6: Priming Effects in Judgments about Public Policy - UCSB

IRG 3-7: The Politics of Consumer Choice - UCSB

IRG 3-8: NonGovernmental Organizations and Tomorrow's Nanotechnologies - UCSB, U of AZ, Long Island University, UC Irvine

IRG 3 Seed Project: Characterization of Uncertainties in the Life Cycle Assessments and Risk Assessments of Nanotechnology - UCSB

Completed Projects:

Expert Judgments about Nanotechnologies’ Benefits and Risks

Public Participation in Nanotechnology R&D: Upstream Engagement and Deliberation Research

Emergent Public Perceptions of Benefits and Risks 

Industry risk perception study (International survey)

Variation in the Framing of Nano

Anchoring Effects in Judgments about Public Policy

The Politics of Consumer Choice