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Denying to the GraveWhy We Ignore the Science That Will Save Us, Revised and Updated Edition$
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Sara E. Gorman and Jack M. Gorman

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197547458

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197547458.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 January 2022

Risk Perception and Probability

Risk Perception and Probability

(p.237) 6 Risk Perception and Probability
Denying to the Grave

Sara E. Gorman

Jack M. Gorman

Oxford University Press

This chapter studies the psychology of risk perception, starting with an overview of classic risk perception theory. When it comes to health, people are intolerant of risks of harm that feel uncontrollable while they are perfectly content to accept risks that they perceive are within their control, even if these perceptions are incorrect. These dangerous health misperceptions fall under the psychological category called “uncontrollable risk.” The chapter assesses the question of why many statistically improbable risks seem much more relevant to people than statistically probable ones. It then looks at some of the heuristics and biases that affect risk perception. People’s brains are not designed for linear risk perception even though that is how the world really is. Recognizing this is a crucial step in correcting mistakes when making health decisions and in planning interventions to help people make those decisions on a scientific basis.

Keywords:   risk perception, risk perception theory, health misperceptions, uncontrollable risk, probability, health decisions, scientific basis

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