In Human Relations, What Are "imagined Risks"?

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An imagined risk is an exaggeration or overestimation of a risk or threat that can cause a person to overreact or develop a behavior that affects his confidence level or self-esteem. People tend to downplay commonly occurring risks and play up rarer and more spectacular risks in life. Imagined risks may include perceived threats related to airplane travel, nuclear accidents or natural disasters.

Author Bruce Schneier, who wrote the book, "Beyond Fear," says that people worry more about events that occur less often than about everyday threats. For example, people tend to concern themselves with earthquake preparedness more than they do with slipping in the shower. However, according to the author, statistics show that the latter occurrence results in more deaths each year.

The threat of terrorism causes more fear than crime in the streets even though more people lose lives in local crimes than in national acts that involve terrorists. Parents worry each year about the candy that is distributed to their children during trick-or-treat activities. Many adults imagine that some of the pieces may be poisoned. However, statistics show that this event has never occurred.

Imagined risks can also extend to consumer behavior. A perceived risk in business is denoted by consumer uncertainty. Consumers try to lessen the anxiety by obtaining as much information as they can about a specific product. Manufacturers try to reassure customers by offering guarantees or warranties. Spokespeople are also hired to add to the consumer's level of confidence.