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The Role of Feelings in Perceived Risk

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Handbook of Risk Theory

Abstract

This chapter provides an overview of key conceptualizations of and evidence for the role of feelings in perceived risk. Influence from feelings in judgment and decision making was first recognized nearly three decades ago. More recent work has developed models that generalize the mechanisms by which feelings operate. Feelings may play multiple roles in judgment and decision processes, including providing information, enabling rapid information processing, directing attention to relevant aspects of the problem, facilitating abstract thought and communication, and helping people to determine social meaning and to act morally. Feelings may be anticipated or experienced immediately and either integral (attached) to mental representations of the decision problem or incidental (unrelated), arising from moods or metacognitive processes. A rich repertoire of psychological concepts related to risk, such as appraisal and memory, can be used to help explain the mechanisms by which affect and analysis might combine in judgment and decision making. Phenomena such as psychophysical numbing, probability neglect, scope insensitivity, and the misattribution of incidental affect all provide empirical support, albeit fragmented, for the important influence of feelings. Future research needs to utilize multiple dependent variables and methodological approaches to provide convergent evidence for and development of more sophisticated descriptive and predictive models. An additional direction for future research is to develop tools that help risk communicators and risk mangers to address complex, multidimensional risk problems.

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Finucane, M.L. (2012). The Role of Feelings in Perceived Risk. In: Roeser, S., Hillerbrand, R., Sandin, P., Peterson, M. (eds) Handbook of Risk Theory. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-1433-5_26

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-1433-5_26

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