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The Risk of Nano-Particles in Deodorants – How Literate Are Young People?

Authors: Doris Elster, Mara Sozio, Marie Eschweiler, Julia Schindler, and Anja Voigt

Abstract: In this empirical study the risk literacy of young people in the context of nanotechnology is investigated. Therefore, a Risk Literacy Model (RLM) based on the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) by Petty and Cacioppo [1] is developed. The RLM differentiates between the processing of information regarding risk assessment, which is based on either a deeper cognitive analysis (central route), or on the use of peripheral cues (peripheral route). Target group are 12th Graders (N = 245) from Bremen and Lower Saxony. The prerequisites of central information processing, risk propensity and risk literacy are measured using a questionnaire with closed and open response formats. Risk propensity is measured before and after presentation of a short scientific text and several evaluative statements by institutions or fictitious individuals on nano-particles in everyday products. The results show that the adolescents’ risk literacy is very low. However, the risk propensity of the participants decrease considerably through the reception of the information presented. It is recommended that risk literacy should be more promoted in the science curriculum. 

Journal: The Journal of Health, Environment, & Education

Volume: 8

Pages: 14–21

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