In this chapter, we introduce three common decision-making strategies that humans apply in situations of risk and uncertainty. Due to cognitive limitations, human beings often simplify complex decisions and use heuristics. People strive for safety, but tend to overweigh the value of zero risk in comparison to very small risks. Choosing the zero-risk solution is a heuristic that reduces complexity by eliminating the need to weigh statistical information, but may result in suboptimal decisions, which has been termed the zero-risk bias. Another strategy is rooted in the way humans process information. According to dual-process theories, information is processed intuitively (System 1) or analytically (System 2). Intuitive reactions, including affect and emotions, usually precede and often override analytical (cognitive) evaluations. The affect heuristic states that people judge risk information based on subtle feelings of positivity or negativity. A good feeling can therefore result in perceived safety despite diverging statistical information. Finally, one’s attitude toward risks may be acquired through certain learning experiences. People who engage in risky behavior without encountering negative consequences may conclude that ‘everything is fine and will remain fine,’ which has been termed learned carelessness. Advantages and disadvantages of these strategies as well as practical implications, including decision aids and nudges, are discussed.
- Certainty effect
- Prospect theory
- Affect heuristic
- Selective information search
- Unrealistic optimis
- Illusion of control
Martina Raue and Elisabeth Schneider contributed equally to this chapter.
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Raue, M., Schneider, E. (2019). Psychological Perspectives on Perceived Safety: Zero-Risk Bias, Feelings and Learned Carelessness. In: Raue, M., Streicher, B., Lermer, E. (eds) Perceived Safety. Risk Engineering. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-11456-5_5
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