Lay–Expert Risk Perception Divide: Downscaling Global Problems to National Concerns

  • Aistė Balžekienė
  • Eimantė Zolubienė
  • Agnė Budžytė
Keywords: risk perception, public attitudes, municipality experts


In the modern world, risks are complex and systemic, and their effects are interconnected with the transformations in different layers of social systems. Global issues are not necessarily reflected in local contexts, and public perceptions of risks may differ significantly from expert assessments. The aim of the article is to reveal the differences between the opinions of the Lithuanian population and experts on economic, environmental, technological, geopolitical and social risks, and to compare the differences between the opinions of local experts and Lithuanian public and the assessments of experts from the Global Risk Reports. The article presents the results of a representative survey of the Lithuanian population and an online survey of municipal experts. The results of the study show that expert and population perceptions quite often coincide, especially in the case of social and economic threats. The biggest discrepancies, when the experts assessed the risks as higher than the population, were revealed in the cases of COVID-19, floods, forest fires, energy disruptions, and the mines from war legacy. Public identified higher risks than experts in the case of traffic accidents, illegal tracking of persons, illegal use of bank accounts/cards, Astravets NPP, and increase in prices. In the perception of risks of Lithuanian population and municipal experts in 2020–2021 economic and social risks dominated, and global risks with long-term effects, such as ecological or geopolitical, were not reflected in the local perceptions.