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Orienting Dispositions in the Perception of Risk: An Analysis of Contemporary Worldviews and Cultural Biases

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Dake, K.


Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Volume 22, p.61- (1991)



Cultural biases based on the anthropological work of Mary Douglas and her colleagues are compared to contemporary worldviews deriving from a psychological approach to the issues of risk and culture. It is argued that these orienting dispositions guide the perception of risk at both the collective and individual levels, with cultural biases referring to shared beliefs and values, and contemporary worldviews representing a person's way of responding to controversies over technology and society. Drawing on day-long assessments of 300 San Francisco Bay area citizens, it is shown that the cultural biases of Hierarchy, Individualism, and Egalitarianism are predictive of distinctive rankings of possible dangers and preferences for risk taking at the societal level. Findings on the relations among personality, political ideology, and orienting dispositions advance and clarify a research agenda linking individuals, social structures, and cultural biases.