Thursday, 25 April 2019

Improved anger management needed for the public to accept mobile towers

tower protestA Swiss survey of 500 people has found fear and most importantly anger play a key role in the acceptance of mobile phone base stations in the community and improved consultation is the best way to manage these emotions.


“We found that benefit perception and the acceptance of mobile phone base stations were primarily determined by anger. Risk perception, in contrast, was influenced by both emotions [fear and anger],” the researchers concluded.


Drs Simone Dohle, Carmen Keller, and Michael Siegrist from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich surveyed 500 people in a Swiss city randomly selected from the telephone book and interviewed them about mobile telecommunications.


In the paper published in the April edition of the Journal of Risk Research, the researchers explained that certain emotions result from conscious or unconscious processes of evaluation of events like the installation of a mobile phone towers.


“Fear is associated with appraisals of uncertainty and situational control. Anger, in contrast, is associated with appraisals of certainty and individual, other-person control,” they explained.


The researchers measured participants perceptions of control, fairness, certainty, anger, fear, acceptance, and risk-benefit perceptions on a 1-6-point scale against statements such as ‘Overall, I think that I am treated justly regarding mobile phone base stations’ and ‘I feel afraid when I think of mobile phone base stations.’


The researchers produced a visual model showing how control, fairness, and certainty are linked to anger and fear by lines indicating the strength of the relationship.


“Our model indicates that control and fairness are important antecedents of fear and anger related to mobile communication. Fear is strongly determined by control, and anger is influenced by both control and fairness,” the researchers explained.


These results suggest that people’s fears and anger regarding mobile phone base stations would be reduced if people could control the radiation from or construction of base stations.


The researchers recommended improved public participation in base station site selection or providing members of the public with individual exposure meters would help the community feel more in control, and therefore reduce their fear and anger.


“Anger strongly determines the acceptance of mobile phone base stations, has a strong impact on benefit perception, and is also related to risk perception,” the researchers said. “Fear, on the other hand has no influence on acceptance and benefit perception but does influence risk perception of mobile phone base stations.”


Therefore, they recommend, any information given to the community should relate to both emotions.


“As regards acceptance of base stations, anger is much more crucial than fear. A fair base station site-selection process, e.g. one in which residents are involved, could be a way of preventing negative emotional reactions. More generally, our study suggests that emotional reactions toward mobile communication are not simply by-products of risk perception, only occurring alongside with other phenomena. Instead, they are central to people’s risk and benefit perceptions and have a strong influence on acceptance of mobile communication.”


The study was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation as part of the National Research Program on Non-Ionizing Radiation–Health and Environment. 

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