The study of public perceptions is considered to be important for making sound policy decisions, since the public decides which products will enter and sustain in the market. Stability of public perceptions is important for policy-makers; only if public attitudes and perceptions remain constant, policy-makers will be able to take them into account. The aim of the present study was to examine the stability of participants’ risk and benefit perceptions of gene technology over a period of two years. In spring, 2008 and in spring, 2010, the same sample of participants filled out an identical questionnaire. Results of structural equation modelling show that risk and benefit perceptions of gene technology applications are moderately stable (r = .5–.7). Furthermore, results show that people distinguish between medical, plant and food applications and applications involving animals when evaluating the risk of gene technology. When evaluating the benefits, participants also take consumer-related benefits into account, such as enhancement of functional properties. Results of the present study suggest that risk research should regularly examine people’s risk perceptions in order to gain a clearer picture of the dynamics of people’s perception and preferences not only of novel technologies, but also of entrenched technologies.
- Risk perception