Published: 15 January 2014

Comment: Why are we mesmerised by danger?

Environmental psychologist Professor David Uzzell writes in The Guardian about risk, peril and our reaction to dangerous events.

Footage of people taking immense risks to get a close-up view of dangerous waves during recent storms prompted Professor David Uzzell to reflect on a career observing how people assess risk.

Writing in The Guardian, Prof. Uzzell commented: "I have been an environmental psychologist for more than 30 years, during which time my research has focused on public perceptions of risk and risk communication across a variety of environmental issues.

"We know that information may be a necessary, but insufficient, condition to change people's behaviour. This is evident from government safe driving, smoking, and dietary programmes, and campaigns to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. I have been struck by images of people taking photographs of the massive waves that have been rolling in from the Atlantic – a number of wave watchers have been swept out to sea.

"Why is it that people ignore advice even when to do so puts their own and others' lives at risk?"

Read Prof. Uzzell's full article at The Guardian website.

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