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Examining insensitivity to probability in evidence‐based communication of relative risks: the role of affect and communication format

Heard, Claire Louise ORCID: 0000-0001-5667-6374 and Rakow, Tim (2022) Examining insensitivity to probability in evidence‐based communication of relative risks: the role of affect and communication format. Risk Analysis, 42 (10). pp. 2145-2159. ISSN 0272-4332

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Identification Number: 10.1111/risa.13862

Abstract

Affect can influence judgments of event riskiness and use of risk-related information. Two studies (Ns: 85 and 100) examined the insensitivity-to-probability effect—where people discount probability information when scenarios are affect-rich—applying it to evidence-informed risk communication. We additionally investigated whether this effect is moderated by format, based on predictions from the evaluability and pattern-recognition literatures, suggesting that graphical formats may attenuate insensitivity to probability. Participants completed a prior beliefs questionnaire (Study 1), and risk perception booklet (both studies) that presented identical statistical information about the relative risks associated with two scenarios—one with an affect-rich outcome, the other an affect-poorer outcome. In Study 1, this was presented graphically. In Study 2, information was presented in one of three formats: written, tabular, or graphical. Participants provided their perceptions of the risk for each scenario at a range of risk-levels. The affect-rich scenario was perceived as higher in risk, and, importantly, despite presenting identical relative risk information in both scenarios, was associated with a reduced sensitivity to probability information (both studies). These differences were predicted by participants’ prior beliefs concerning the scenario events (Study 1) and were larger for the single-item written format than graphical format (Study 2). The findings illustrate that insensitivity to probability information can occur in evidence-informed risk communications and highlight how communication format can moderate this effect. This interplay between affect and format therefore reflects an important consideration for information designers and researchers.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/15396924
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Management
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD61 Risk Management
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2022 11:54
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2022 14:30
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/113810

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