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.
Slovic, Paul, Finucane, Melissa, and Alhakami, Ali. Affect, Reason, and Decision Making. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2009-09-22. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR24610.v1
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National Science Foundation (SBR 9422754)
National Science Foundation (SBR 9709307)