Risk Communication & Assessment: Are Meteorologists Superior to Psychologists/Psychiatrists?


Meteorology is often thought of as a field with highly developed techniques for forecasting rare and severe events. Risk assessment of another type of rare and severe event – violence to others – occurs in mental health law. The analogy between these 2 forms of risk assessment is explored in this article. How meteorologists go about assessing the risk of harmful weather is described. Implications from the meteorological analogy are drawn for 1 aspect of violence prediction that is routinely ignored in mental health law: the communication of risk “forecasts.”


Monahan, J. & Steadman, H.J. (1996) Violent Storms and Violent People: How Meteorology can Inform Risk Communication in Mental Health Law. American Psychologist. 51(9), pp.931-938. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.51.9.931.

You can read a free copy of the article here.

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