Risk Homeostasis

A Theory about 

Risk Taking Behaviour

Opinions of Others

What others have said about risk homeostasis and  target risk

 

“Wilde’s diligent, eclectic search for empirical data to support his theory of risk homeostasis is exemplary. His efforts have served as a focal point of debate and have led others into theory-based discussion relevant to driver behaviour…” Alan C. Donaldson, Senior Research Scientist, Traffic Injury Research Foundation of Canada


“Wilde has a whole book full of real-life examples of how we all set a risk target and adjust our behavior accordingly. Adding anti-lock brakes to a car, for example doesn’t reduce accidents. Aware of their greater braking ability, drivers follow more closely and drive faster on slick streets…depressingly, Wilde concludes that we get the safety we deserve. If Canadians truly wanted a lower accident rate, they would simply change how they drive…if you doubt, read the evidence yourself in Gerald Wilde’s Target Risk.” Peter Calamai, The Ottawa Citizen


"A provocative theory, a wide variety of evidence, some interesting anecdotes, and a colourful writing style; with these main ingredients, Gerald Wilde has composed a book that entertains the reader, but also presents him or her with a comprehensive theory about the psychological processes that underlie risky behaviour." Laurie Hendricks, Energy and Environmental Studies, University of Groningen


 “The risk homeostatic approach, the devil’s idea to some in the safety community… Human behaviour is the dominant force in the risk approach. Technological changes will be completely offset by user response unless the target level of risk is changed.” Glenn C. Blomquist, Professor of Economics and Public Administration, University of Kentucky


“Risk compensation is not a consequence of an indomitable desire for risk, but simply follows from an economic principle.” Prof. Willem Wagenaar, NRC-Handelsblad, Rotterdam


“Target Risk 2 (in Japanese translation): “A sensation to the automotive engineering community.”  Prof. Shigeru Haga, Tokyo


         “Based on the notion that rules don’t force us to drive more safely, this radical theory suggests rewarding good drivers is more effective than punishing bad.” Andy Turnbull, Truckers’ News


The New Yorker magazine calls it ‘the new debate over risk.’ The Challenger blow-up, the crisis at Three Mile Island, and other breakdowns in risk management systems all have one thing in common: they were the result of the acceptance of a number of minor risks rather than one simple cause. In his book Target Risk, Professor Gerald J.S. Wilde lays out his famed theory of Risk Homeostasis as a potential explanation for why people behave as they do in relation to risk. His theory constitutes a frontal attack on the premise that the rate and severity of accidents can be reduced by improving the design of machines and environments.” Bulletin of the American Society of Healthcare Risk Management


"It is certainly the best [occupational and health and safety] book that I’ve ever read, though recommending it to others is a risky business. The data is so compelling and the argument logical: risk per unit time is the crucial statistic to people’s lives, all the rest introduce productivity measures and are muddied with (often someone else other than the exposed’s) perceived values. Adaptive behaviour must be considered where there is perceived risk/benefit to an exposure.” Robert D.S. Grant, Occupational Health and Safety Canada Magazine


“The notion of risk homeostasis crops up constantly—in letters to the editor, in scientific articles, and political debates.” Barry Pless, Editor-in-chief, Injury Prevention


“Wilde asserts that every society has a built-in “target level of risk” that constitutes the level of danger people are willing to accept in exchange for the benefits they believe they accrue, such as getting to work on time or deriving pleasure from driving. This target level functions as a kind of danger thermostat: Devices that make drivers safer, he argues, provoke a collective increase in risky behaviour.” Kevin Krajick, Psychology Today


“Why more condoms may not contain the spread of AIDS…Risk compensation raises awkward questions about advertising aimed at selling safety products.” John Adams, The Independent, London


“Professor Wilde is considered to be the leader in contemporary traffic psychology.” Dr. Atico Dotta, Traffic safety author and professional, Caxias do Sul, Brazil


“A deeper understanding of the motivational barriers that frustrate injury prevention measures is critical to the advancement of our field. Professor Wilde makes a lasting contribution by shedding some light on this neglected area.” John D. Graham, Harvard School of Public Health


“A superlative achievement in the professional literature.” Walter Schneider, Zeitschrift für Verkehrssicherheit


"There are no epicycles and there is no phlogiston. Similarly, there is no risk homeostasis."
 Leonard Evans, General Motors, Detroit

 

"As Evans has noted [risk homeostasis] commands about as much credence as the flat earth hypothesis." Brian O'Neill and Alan Williams, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, USA

 

“Are cigarettes that are half as carcinogenic better for public health than the cigarettes we smoke today? No, that is not so certain according to Dr. Wilde. How many people who now want to quit would continue to smoke? How many current non-smokers would start smoking the not so dangerous cigarettes, and how many current smokers, used as they are to the present risk of cancer, would not hesitate to smoke twice the number of cigarettes? Maybe such a new cigarette poses a major danger to public health.” Paul Arnoldussen, Het Parool, Amsterdam


“Making things safer can be a risky business…Professor Wilde responds that because his theory focuses on motivation it emphasizes the positive. Instead of viewing human beings as passive subjects of technical designs or enforcement, we should treat them as active subjects and look for ways to make them want to be safer.” Dan Keegan, The Globe and Mail, Toronto

 

“In his book Target Risk, Professor Gerald J.S. Wilde lays out his famed Theory of Risk Homeostasis as a potential explanation for why people behave as they do in relation to risk. His theory constitutes a frontal attack on the premise that the rate and severity of accidents can be reduced by improving the design of machines and environments.” Bimonthly Bulletin of the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management


“[…] the dominant influence […] has been that of the Canadian psychologist, Gerald Wilde.” Graham Grayson, Transport Research Laboratory, United Kingdom


 “Can science make trucks safer? Yes and no, Gerry Wilde says. Yes, if the science is psychology. No if it’s anything else… His ideas upset a lot of psychologists, not to mention truckers, law-makers and technologists.” Andy Turnbull, Truck News


“…Gerald Wilde, the man with the original idea…The Wilde hypothesis suggests an explanation: protecting car occupants from the con­sequences of bad driving encourages bad driving…there is one form of safety legislation which Risk Homeostasis Theory suggests will be futile: legislation to protect people from themselves…the principal, and perhaps the only, determinant of aggregate accident rates is what Wilde calls the ‘target level of risk." John G.U. Adams, Department of Geography, University College London


"The best-known model--but also the most controversial--is Wilde's 'homeostasis of risk', in which risk perception and risk utility are integrated in a single cybernetic conceptualization."  Jean-Pascal Assailly, National Transportation Research Institute, France


Wilde is to be congratulated for carefully and explicitly setting out a fascinating theory of risk-taking behaviour. Paul Slovic and Baruch Fischhoff, Decision Research, Eugene, Oregon


Canadian psychologist Gerald J.S. Wilde depicts the human being as a strategist and planner who attempts to optimise, not minimise, the level of risk taking for the purpose of maximising the benefits – economic, biological, and psychological – that may be derived from life. Claudine M. Haeni, Sankt Gallen Symposium


This is a clear and well-written book that presents a strange, counterintuitive and fascinating idea. The implications for teachers, politicians, health-care people and drivers are enormous. and fascinating idea. The implications for teachers, politicians, health-care people and drivers are enormous This is a clear and well-written book that presents a strange, counterintuitive.  Chris Stolz, Canada.

 

"Any attempt to answer whether we are implementing the right safety measures must address the controversial issue of "risk homeostasis." Ivan D. Brown, Medical Research Council, Cambridge, England

 

"[...] risk homeostasis provides a comprehensive theory of human behavior, and in doing so provides a useful framework for discussion and development of research" Eric Stone, Contemporary Psychology