In a new study published in the journal Risk Analysis, author Emir Efendić explores how people judge risk. Heuristics are cognitive shortcuts that people use when problem solving. It has been discovered that people rely on availability and affect as convenient heuristics. The question in this instance explores how people rely on heuristics when constructing risk judgments. This research explores an experiment (N = 143) where availability-by-recall and affective impact of certain risks are used as variables. The findings suggest that availability-by-recall exhibits a stronger connection in forming risk judgments, while also suggesting that retrieval of occurrences leads to change in affect, proving that it also impacts risk judgments. Asking people to think of more occurrences led to higher judgments of mortality and higher values placed on a single life, irrespective of changes in affect, risk media coverage, and retrieval time. Affect, however, was not disregarded.
“Our data suggest a causal mechanism where the retrieval of occurrences leads to changes in affect, which in turn, impact risk judgments. These findings increase understanding of how risk judgments are constructed with the potential to impact risk communication through direct manipulations of availability and effect,” notes Efendić.
The full article can be found on the Risk Analysis journal website at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/risa.13729.