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9 Examples of Risk Perception

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Risk perception is the tendency for people to have different dramatically estimates of risk probability and impact given the same information. The following are examples of things that are known to impact risk perception.


General personality factors such as pessimism and optimism.

Sour Grapes

A tendency to overrate risks when you're jealous. For example, coworkers may overrate the risks of an ambitious employee taking on significant responsibilities.


Overrating risks that involve many unknowns. For example, a developer may overrate risks involving a technology with which they are unfamiliar.

False Analogy

Inaccurately reducing a complex risk to a simple one using an analogy.

Survivorship Bias

Basing risk assessments on the survivors in a situation and ignoring failures. For example, an entrepreneur may look at the success of a small number of firms without considering the hundreds of firms that failed on a similar mission.

Mere Exposure Effect

Reducing risk estimates dramatically after trying something once. For example, hang gliding may seem less risky after surviving once.

Curse of Knowledge

Inaccurate perceptions of risk because you're too close to the situation. For example, an operations team may see hundreds of problems with a project and assume it has no chance of success without seeing that such problems are common and projects often succeed anyway.

Magical Assumptions

Viewing a new technology or business approach as magic. For example, assuming that a technology can solve problems without understanding why or how.

Motivated Reasoning

Estimating risk in order to support what you want to do. For example, an entrepreneur who is excited about a new business strategy may underestimate risk.
Overview: Risk Perception
The tendency for two individuals with the same information to develop dramatically different estimates of risk.
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