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Sociopolitical Determinants of Perceived Risk, 1998 (ICPSR 34637)

Principal Investigator(s): Slovic, Paul, Decision Research


The Sociopolitical Determinants of Perceived Risk project is an extensive national survey designed to assess the influence of sociopolitical constructs on perceived risk. This research project designed an extensive survey instrument to assess the influence of sociopolitical constructs on perceived risk. The survey was administered to 1,204 randomly selected adults by telephone between September, 1997 and February, 1998. Minority groups (African-American, Hispanic-American, and Asian-American persons) were oversampled. This national survey revealed that men rate a wide range of hazards as lower in risk than women and that whites rate risks lower than non-whites. Non-white females often gave the highest risk ratings. The group with the consistently lowest risk perceptions across a range of hazards was white males. A few exceptions were found: compared with white males, Asian males gave lower risk ratings to six items. Compared with the rest of the sample, white males were more sympathetic with hierarchical, individualistic, and anti-egalitarian views, more trusting of technology managers, less trusting of government, and less sensitive to potential stigmatization of communities from hazards. Although the data showed that white males stood apart from others, the data also revealed substantial heterogeneity in risk perceptions among the race and gender groups that comprised the 'other' category. That is, risk perceptions varied considerably across African-Americans, Asian, and Hispanic males and females. The heterogeneity implies that risk perceptions depend importantly on characteristics of the individuals facing the risk. The sociopolitical constructions included power, control influence, alienation, social class, trust and worldviews. Demographic information pertaining to race, gender, age, education and income was also obtained.

Access Notes

  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions. Please log in so we can determine if you are with a member institution and have access to these data files.

    One or more files in this collection have special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more.

    Public and restricted versions of the data are included in this collection. Due to the sensitive nature of the restricted data, users will need to complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement before they can obtain the restricted version. These forms can be accessed on the download page associated with this dataset


DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  Public Use Data - Download All Files (6.522 MB)
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DS2:  Restricted Use Data
No downloadable data files available.

Study Description


Slovic, Paul. Sociopolitical Determinants of Perceived Risk, 1998. ICPSR34637-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-11-06.

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • National Science Foundation (9631635)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    cloning, control, education, environmental attitudes, gender, hazardous waste disposal, minorities, perceptions, risk, risk assessment, trust (psychology)

Smallest Geographic Unit:    United States (national survey)

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1997-09--1998-02

Date of Collection:   

  • 1997-09-27--1998-02-04

Unit of Observation:    individual

Universe:    United States households with phones, with oversampling of non-white households.

Data Type(s):    survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The original identification number was replaced by a sequential record identifier to protect respondent confidentiality.

The restricted use data contains qualitative data administrated on a split sample basis where respondents only answered one of the following topics: blood transfusion, eating beef, and cloning.


Study Purpose:    This study was designed to assess the influence of sociopolitical constructs on perceived risk.

Study Design:    The survey was administered to 1,204 randomly selected adults by telephone between September 1997, and February 1998. Minority groups (African-American, Hispanic-American, and Asian-American persons) were oversampled.

Sample:    Random selection of United States households with phones. Please refer to the "Appendix: Summary of Survey Methodology" in the codebook for more information.

Weight:    Weighting the ethnic groups back to their respective proportion in the United States population as a whole, results in a weighted sample size of 861. See the Summary of Survey Methodology file in the user guide.

Mode of Data Collection:    telephone interview

Data Source:

Telephone interviews

Response Rates:    Response rate ranged by day and race/ethnic groups between 32.5 percent and 54.4 percent. See the Summary of Survey Methodology file in user guide.

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   2013-11-06



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