Mistrust, uncertainty and health risks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aspects of the relationship between mistrust, uncertainty and risk responses are examined. Identity Process Theory and Social Representation Theory are used to explain risk responses. The operation of mistrust, defined here as an active state of uncertainty about whether a source or its assertions are to be believed, is examined. Mistrust can also be a cognitive or emotional trait of a person, associated with being habitually suspicious, doubtful, or sceptical, and, as such, can be a preferred strategy for coping with threats to identity. The relationship between mistrust and uncertainty in shaping responses to health risks is examined. An illustration using media reporting of MMR vaccine hesitancy during 2019 is described. This indicated: politicians and health experts sometimes mistrust the public’s reaction to risk guidance; uncertainty once established is resilient against remediation; and, targeting of mistrust and blame is purposive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-516
Number of pages13
JournalContemporary Social Science
Volume15
Issue number5
Early online date4 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • identity
  • Mistrust
  • MMR
  • risk
  • social representation
  • uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this