This study examines public perceptions of, and likely reactions to, an act of bioterrorism targeting the US foodsupply. Results from factor analysis of survey data suggest a range of responses including; public panic, raised fearsor emotions, a controlled response or a an acceptance that such an event is inevitable. Reactions are reflective ofpeoples' cognitive interpretations or affective responses to the risks posed. Cluster analysis and regression resultssuggest that authorities may successfully position risk communication messages based on the condition that peoplebelieve the government and private institutions can function in the face of a food attack. This finding underscores thepivotal role played by trust and confidence in institutions in restoring calm after a bioterrorist event. Fine tuning ofcommunications for different population groups may be necessary if certain Americans' perceive the risk of a bioterroristevent in a less rational manner.
College of Agriculture
Copyright © 2011 Onyango B, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
bioterrorism, risk perceptions, response to bioterrorism, factor analysis
Onyango, B., N. Hooker, W. Hallman, and I. Mohammed. "Americans' Potential Responses to Deliberate Food Contamination: A Risk Perception and Communication Study." Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense 5 (2011): 2.
Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense