Social Amplification of Risk

Distortion of the seriousness of a risk caused by public concern about the risk and/or about an activity contributing to the risk.

Sample Usage: Social amplification of risk can result in public concern with an otherwise insignificant risk.


  1. Describes the phenomenon by which hazards interact with psychological, social, institutional, and cultural processes in ways that may amplify or attenuate the public’s perceived level of risk.
  2. The social amplification of risk phenomenon is the subject of a field of study that seeks to systematically link the technical assessment of risk with sociological perspectives of risk perception and risk-related behavior.

Source: DHS Risk Lexicon, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2010 Edition. September 2010 Regulatory Guidance

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