Risk perception and the public acceptance of drones

Clothier, Reece A., Greer, Dominique A., Greer, Duncan G., & Mehta, Amisha M. (2015) Risk perception and the public acceptance of drones. Risk Analysis, 35(6), pp. 1167-1183.

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Abstract

Unmanned aircraft, or drones, are a rapidly emerging sector of the aviation industry. There has been limited substantive research, however, into the public perception and acceptance of drones. This paper presents the results from two surveys of the Australian public designed to investigate (a) whether the public perceive drones to be riskier than existing manned aviation, (b) whether the terminology used to describe the technology influences public perception, and (c) what the broader concerns are that may influence public acceptance of the technology. We find that the Australian public currently hold a relatively neutral attitude towards drones. Respondents did not consider the technology to be overly unsafe, risky, beneficial, or threatening. Drones are largely viewed as being of comparable risk to that of existing manned aviation. Further, terminology had a minimal effect on the perception of the risks or acceptability of the technology. The neutral response is likely due to a lack of knowledge about the technology, which was also identified as the most prevalent public concern as opposed to the risks associated with its use. Privacy, military use and misuse (e.g., terrorism) were also significant public concerns. The results suggest that society is yet to form an opinion of drones. As public knowledge increases, the current position is likely to change. Industry communication and media coverage will likely influence the ultimate position adopted by the public, which can be difficult to change once established.

Impact and interest:

4 citations in Scopus
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2 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 80007
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: drones, unmanned aircraft systems, risk perception, risk communication, remotely piloted aircraft
DOI: 10.1111/risa.12330
ISSN: 1539-6924
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Research Centres > Centre for Emergency & Disaster Management
Current > Schools > School of Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Society for Risk Analysis
Deposited On: 14 Jan 2015 02:00
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2015 20:48

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