Consumers' perceptions of risk : the case of the food-related biotechnology, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/j9602340q

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  • Consumers' risk perceptions are examined to explain the underlying reasons for consumer concern associated with milk from dairy herds treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH). A focus group study was employed as an initial step in exploring the primary influences of consumer apprehension toward rbGH's use. The information obtained through the focus group sessions was invaluable in strengthening empirical measures of the factors affecting risk perception, and in formulating concise survey questions for a national study. Data from a nationwide survey of 1,910 primary household food purchasers were used in understanding the influence of risk characteristics on consumers' risk perceptions toward rbGH treated herd milk, as well as investigating consumer risk perception profiles. One conclusion is evident from the data, consumers remain concerned about the rbGH product despite FDA approval for commercial use. Results suggest that particular characteristics of the rbGH product hypothesized as being more risky and less tolerable elicit consumer outrage perceptions. Results also showed systematic differences between consumers, producing a range of risk perception profiles. Overall, the results support the idea that consumers' risk perceptions are multi-dimensional and differ in emphasis compared to the risk assessments by scientific experts. Consumers' risk perceptions warrant recognition as playing a vital role in product acceptance. A recommendation proposed for those involved in risk assessment is to integrate consumer beliefs and perceptions into assessments of risk, perhaps increasing consumer trust and reducing product apprehension. Additionally, the range of risk perceptions among consumers imply that one public policy strategy is unlikely to satisfy all consumers. Risk communicators can design more effective risk communication strategies by understanding the ways consumers differ in their behavioral response to a particular perceived concern.
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