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Affect, Reason, and Decision Making (ICPSR 24610)

Principal Investigator(s): Slovic, Paul, Decision Research; Finucane, Melissa, Decision Research; Alhakami, Ali, Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University (Saudi Arabia). Psychology Department


This study examines the commonly observed inverse relationship between perceived risk and perceived benefit. The researchers proposed that this relationship occurs because people rely on affect when judging the risk and benefit of specific hazards. The study tested and confirmed the hypothesis that providing information designed to alter the favorability of one's overall affective evaluation of an item (say nuclear power, natural gas, and food preservatives) would systematically change the risk and benefit judgments for that item. The study suggests that people seem prone to using an "affect heuristic" which improves judgmental efficiency by deriving both risk and benefit evaluations from a common source -- affective reactions to the stimulus item.

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Study Description


Slovic, Paul, Melissa Finucane, and Ali Alhakami. Affect, Reason, and Decision Making. ICPSR24610-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2009-09-22. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR24610.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR24610.v1

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This study was funded by:

  • National Science Foundation (SBR 9422754)
  • National Science Foundation (SBR 9709307)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    decision making, judgment, natural gas, nuclear energy, nuclear power, perceptions, risk, risk assessment, risk factors

Geographic Coverage:    Australia, Oregon, United States

Time Period:   

  • 1995

Date of Collection:   

  • 1997-08--1999-07

Unit of Observation:    individual

Universe:    College students.

Data Type(s):    experimental data

Data Collection Notes:

For a more detailed description of the study design, results, and discussion, please see the Finucane et al. paper included in the ICPSR codebook.


Study Purpose:    The purpose of this study was to re-examine the commonly observed inverse relationship between perceived risk and perceived benefit.

Sample:    Convenience sample.

Mode of Data Collection:    computer-assisted self interview (CASI), self-enumerated questionnaire


Original ICPSR Release:   2009-09-22

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