How far is how far enough? Safety perception and acceptance of extra-high-voltage power lines in Germany
The results of a 2 x 2 factorial online experiment are reported. The first factor refers to the information on precautionary measures and the second factor on the information regarding the share of EMF exposure from extra-high-voltage power lines compared to overall EMF exposure measured in-house. The study is based on a community sample of 440 subjects. Information on the share of EMF exposure from extra-high-voltage power lines at the in-house overall EMF exposure has no statistically significant effect of safety distances and acceptance distances. Further findings indicate that communications of precautionary measures produce a countervailing effect: on average, subjects require a higher distance from their homes compared to those who were not informed about precautionary measures. However, there is also a positive effect of precautionary information on the acceptance belief. Subjects who received this information are, in average, less negative about the claim that compliance with the value limit is sufficient in order to agree with the construction of a power line. Possible explanations of the findings such as cognitive dissonance, negativity bias, and style of information processing are discussed.