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Risk Anal. 2011 Nov;31(11):1832-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2011.01644.x. Epub 2011 Jun 20.

Affective and cognitive factors influencing sensitivity to probabilistic information.

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1
Kozminski University, Warsaw, Poland.

Abstract

In study 1 different groups of female students were randomly assigned to one of four probabilistic information formats. Five different levels of probability of a genetic disease in an unborn child were presented to participants (within-subject factor). After the presentation of the probability level, participants were requested to indicate the acceptable level of pain they would tolerate to avoid the disease (in their unborn child), their subjective evaluation of the disease risk, and their subjective evaluation of being worried by this risk. The results of study 1 confirmed the hypothesis that an experience-based probability format decreases the subjective sense of worry about the disease, thus, presumably, weakening the tendency to overrate the probability of rare events. Study 2 showed that for the emotionally laden stimuli, the experience-based probability format resulted in higher sensitivity to probability variations than other formats of probabilistic information. These advantages of the experience-based probability format are interpreted in terms of two systems of information processing: the rational deliberative versus the affective experiential and the principle of stimulus-response compatibility.

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