Experience-based processing of risk information: the case of the millenium bug.

M. Kuttschreuter, Jan M. Gutteling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This article focuses on the role of experience in the processing of risk information. With a written questionnaire, completed by 286 subjects in The Netherlands, risk perceptions, mitigating behaviour, and information processing were studied concerning the millennium bug risk that was assumed would crash computers all over the world at midnight 1 January 2000. These variables were related to the level of computer expertise. Results indicated that in the spring of 1999 on average the subjects did not worry much about this risk, and had not taken many precautionary measures either. It appeared to be relevant to distinguish three groups of subjects based on the level of computer experience: (a) nonusers, (b) average users, and (c) ‘experts’. From the risk perception perspective, the average users experienced most problems. They perceived the probability of occurrence of the millennium risk the highest, perceived their personal risk as high, and worried most about it. Furthermore, their levels of self‐efficacy and outcome expectancy were low. These characteristics are often associated with anxious people. Nonusers and ‘experts’ differed remarkably from average users in these respects. The groups also differed in the gathering of information concerning the millennium risk. Results indicated that computer expertise might have played an intermediating role: influencing information gathering as well as risk perceptions and mitigating behaviour. It is assumed that computer expertise offered a frame of reference, which enabled a critical evaluation of the available information on the millennium problem.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)3-16
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of risk research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • IR-80590
  • millennium bug
  • METIS-222477
  • Risk information processing
  • Risk communication
  • Risk Perception

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