News stories about environmental events illustrate public concerns about environmental policy and regulations. Increasingly, public perceptions of risk and fear of cancer are influencing the development of public policy regarding the environment. Policymakers have often regarded these public concerns as irrational. The purpose of this article is to describe how psychological research can be used to understand the public's concerns about environmental threats and to discuss the "irrationality" of these concerns. Examples are drawn from research on perceived risk and fear of cancer, and roles are suggested for psychology and psychologists in informing environmental policymaking.
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