This scale, adapted (with permission) from an instrument developed by Benthin et al. (1993) is designed to measure the extent to which an individual recognizes and evaluates the risks inherent in activities that are potentially dangerous or harmful. The measure employed in this study presents the respondent with eight activities: Riding in a car with a drunk driver, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, vandalizing property, getting into a physical fight, going into a dangerous part of town, threatening or injuring someone with a weapon, having unprotected sex. The procedure asks the respondent to indicate five things for each of these activities: How “scary” the activity is (affective component), how risky the activity is (likelihood component), how much the risks of the activity outweigh its benefits (comparative value component), how serious the consequences of the activity would be if something “bad” happened as a result (salience component), if he or she has engaged in the activity previously and in the past 6 months.
Each of these ratings is made on a 4-point scale; evaluations of riskiness and the relative risk-benefit ratio are reverse-scaled and reverse-scored. A single risk perception score will be computed by averaging 16 responses (the four evaluation dimensions for four activities). Information on whether the individual has actually engaged in the behavior will be examined in some analyses to see whether this needs to be controlled statistically.
Benthin, A., Slovis, P., & Severson, H. (1993). A psychometric study of adolescent risk perception. Journal of Adolescence, 16 (2), 153-168.