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Abstract Title: Cognitive Aversion Toward Mercury and Attitude Toward a Final Disposal Facility of Mercury Wastes
Presenter Name: Fumitake Takahashi
Company/Institution: Tokyo Institute of Technology
Session: Mercury Regulatory and Policy Matters
Co-Authors: Fumitake Takahashi

Abstract Information :

Public attitude toward a final disposal facility of mercury wastes is important for social implementation of Minamata convention. Strong objection and great difficulty to build public acceptance for the facility construction are expected. Through ethical and environmental education about Minamata disease history, mercury hazard is well known commonly in Japan. This study focused on cognitive aversion toward mercury and its impact on public attitude toward mercury long-term storage facility. The aversions were quantified employing two psychological analysis methods; Thurthtone?s method and Scheffe?s method. This study found that two methods showed good agreement when the aversion toward mercury was scaled at the group level. After the aversion was quantitatively broken down at the individual level, individual aversions were compared to personal attitude toward mercury long-term storage facility. This study found that cognitive aversion might have contributed to rejection attitude but not have discouraged acceptance attitude. Persons who had acceptance attitude showed stronger aversions than persons with neutral attitude. It means that acceptance attitude is supported by rational consideration rather than weak aversion. When awareness of mercury is shifted from neutral to high, individual aversion increased correspondingly. Therefore, public education or social campaigns of mercury hazard likely increase aversion toward mercury. However, it might not affect the formation of acceptance attitude toward a mercury facility. On the other hand, an important question still should be addressed how to socially support changing the attitude from rejection to neutral then to acceptance. Aversion mitigation might be an optional way, in particular when changing attitude from rejection to neutral.

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