A field study was performed on the perceived risks related to the Y2K-problem. Two cross-sectional surveys were executed to study whether risk perception regarding the Y2K-problem, the perceived societal and personal capabilities to mitigate the risks, the attitude toward computers and the attitude toward the availability of information 10 months before 1-1-2000 differed from those a few weeks before this crucial date. Four patterns were distinguished, based on the possible psychological reactions to the approach of a risk threat. Results showed a significant decrease in the perception of the risk, a significant increase in the perceived risk mitigation at the personal and societal level, a significant increase in the perceived awareness of the problem among the general public combined with a significant decrease in the need for information, and no change in the attitude toward computers. This combination of results was considered to fit best one of the theoretically distinguished reaction patterns: danger-control and reassuring information. The applicability of our model to other computer risk areas, as computer viruses, is being discussed.
- Information processing