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Peters E.,Decision Research Inc. | Hart P.S.,American University of Washington | Fraenkel L.,Yale University
Medical Decision Making | Year: 2011

Background. Given the importance of effective patient communication, findings about influences on risk perception in nonmedical domains need replication in medical domains. Objective. To examine whether numeracy influences risk perceptions when different information frames and number formats are used to present medication risks. Methods. The authors manipulated the frame and number format of risk information in a 3 (frame: positive, negative, combined) x 2 (number format: frequency, percentage) design. Participants from an Internet sample (N = 298), randomly assigned to condition, responded to a single, hypothetical scenario. The main effects and interactions of numeracy, framing, and number format on risk perception were measured. Results. Participants given the positive frame perceived the medication as less risky than those given the negative frame. Mean risk perceptions for the combined frame fell between the positive and negative frames. Numeracy did not moderate these framing effects. Risk perceptions also varied by number format and numeracy, with less-numerate participants given risk information in a percentage format perceiving the medication as less risky than when given risk information in a frequency format; highly numerate participants perceived similar risks in both formats. The generalizability of the findings is limited due to the use of non-patients, presented a hypothetical scenario. Given the design, one cannot know whether observed differences would translate into clinically significant differences in patient behaviors. Conclusions. Frequency formats appear to increase risk perceptions over percentage formats for less-numerate respondents. Health communicators need to be aware that different formats generate different risk perceptions among patients varying in numeracy. Copyright © 2011 by Society for Medical Decision Making. Source

Kahan D.M.,Yale University | Peters E.,Ohio State University | Wittlin M.,Yale University | Slovic P.,Decision Research Inc. | And 3 more authors.
Nature Climate Change | Year: 2012

Seeming public apathy over climate change is often attributed to a deficit in comprehension. The public knows too little science, it is claimed, to understand the evidence or avoid being misled. Widespread limits on technical reasoning aggravate the problem by forcing citizens to use unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. We conducted a study to test this account and found no support for it. Members of the public with the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity were not the most concerned about climate change. Rather, they were the ones among whom cultural polarization was greatest. This result suggests that public divisions over climate change stem not from the publicĝ™s incomprehension of science but from a distinctive conflict of interest: between the personal interest individuals have in forming beliefs in line with those held by others with whom they share close ties and the collective one they all share in making use of the best available science to promote common welfare. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. Source

Johnson B.B.,Decision Research Inc.
Risk Analysis | Year: 2011

A globalizing world increases immigration between nations, raising the question of how acculturation (or its lack) of immigrants and their descendants to host societies affects risk perceptions. A survey of Paterson, New Jersey, residents tested acculturation's associations with attitudes to air pollution and its management, and knowledge of and self-reported behaviors concerning air pollution. Linguistic and temporal proxy measures for acculturation were independent variables along with ethnicity, plus controls for gender, age, education, and income in multivariate analyses. About one-fifth of contrasts between non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, English-interviewed Hispanics, and Spanish-interviewed Hispanics were statistically significant (Bonferroni-corrected) and of medium or higher affect size, with most featuring the Spanish-interviewed Hispanics. Knowledge variables featured the most significant differences. Specifically, Spanish-interviewed Hispanics reported less concern, familiarity with pollution, recognition of high pollution, and vigorous outdoor activity, and greater belief that government overregulates pollution than English-interviewed Hispanics (and than the other two groups on most of these variables too). English-interviewed Hispanics did not differ from non-Hispanic whites, but did on several variables from non-Hispanic blacks. Temporal proxies of acculturation among the foreign-born were far less significant, but concern and familiarity with air pollution increased with time spent in the United States, while belief in overregulation and a positive trend in New Jersey pollution increased with time in the nation of origin. Implications of these acculturation and ethnicity findings for risk perception/communication research and practice are discussed. © 2011 Society for Risk Analysis. Source

Johnson B.B.,Decision Research Inc.
Human Dimensions of Wildlife | Year: 2014

Research on urban deer management has used bivariate analysis of public support for options. Multiple regression analyses tested predictors of support for deer reduction options (hunting; contraception; removal; no action or "letting nature take its course") and willingness to change one's own behavior (self-protection; yard re-planting; planting native plants). Deer reduction support correlated with wanting fewer deer and opinions about hunting's and no-action's effects; behavior-change support correlated with distrust of government, general environmental attitudes, and beliefs about deer impacts. Variations occurred for specific options (e.g., belief in no action increased with beliefs that nature lacked negative effects and reduced deer numbers; seeing global extinction as a problem and political liberalism favored native-species planting). Controlling for other variables, women supported hunting more and no action less than men, reversing prior bivariate findings. Multivariate analysis thus showed hitherto unobserved differences in the basis of support for deer reduction versus behavior change. © 2014 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC. Source

Arvai J.,University of Calgary | Arvai J.,Decision Research Inc.
Journal of Risk Research | Year: 2014

According to the US National Research Council, risk communication ought to be viewed as a dialogue among people conducted to help facilitate a more accurate understanding of risks and, related, the decisions they may make to manage them. But, in spite of this widely accepted perspective on risk communication, there is often a disconnect between how it is defined and how it is practiced. Rather than focusing on a true dialogue aimed at improving risk assessments and risk management decisions, risk communication is often viewed as means of simply educating people about existing risk assessments so that, on their own, they might make (or contribute to) better risk management decisions. More worrisome, risk communication is still often seen as a means of correcting misconceptions about, or perceptions of, risk; in other words, risk communication is used as a vehicle for attempting to align lay perceptions with their expertly assessed severity. In this paper, I argue that risk communication must become more decision-focused if it is to meet the objectives set forth - in 1989 - by the US National Research Council. © 2014 Taylor & Francis. Source

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