Changing perception of average person's risk does not suffice to change perception of comparative risk

Aucote, Helen M. and Gold, Ron S. 2008, Changing perception of average person's risk does not suffice to change perception of comparative risk, Psychology, health & medicine, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 461-470, doi: 10.1080/13548500701694227.

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Title Changing perception of average person's risk does not suffice to change perception of comparative risk
Author(s) Aucote, Helen M.
Gold, Ron S.
Journal name Psychology, health & medicine
Volume number 13
Issue number 4
Start page 461
End page 470
Total pages 10
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication Abingdon, England
Publication date 2008-08
ISSN 1354-8506
Keyword(s) unrealistic optimism
Summary The direct method of assessing “unrealistic optimism” employs a question of the form, “Compared with the average person, what is the chance that event X will occur to you?” It has been proposed that when individuals construct their responses to this question (direct-estimates) they focus much more strongly on estimates of their own risk (self-estimates) than on estimates of the average person's risk (other-estimates). A challenge to this proposal comes from findings that interventions that alter other-estimates also change direct-estimates. Employing a novel intervention technique, we tested the possibility that such interventions may indirectly also change self-estimates and that this is what accounts for their effect on direct-estimates. Study 1 (n = 58) showed that an intervention which was designed to (and did) affect other-estimates also affected self-estimates, while Study 2 (n = 101) showed that it affected direct-estimates. Study 3 (n = 79) confirmed that we could modify the intervention so as to maintain the effect on other-estimates, but eliminate that on self-estimates. Study 4 (n = 112) demonstrated that when this was done, there was no longer any effect on direct-estimates. The findings are consistent with the proposal that direct-estimates are constructed largely just out of self-estimates. Implications for heath education programs are discussed.
Language eng
DOI 10.1080/13548500701694227
Field of Research 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
Socio Economic Objective 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2008, Routledge
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Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Psychology
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