Presentation Title

How the Presentation of Health Statistics and Severity of Illness Influence Perceived Risk

Location

House of Learning Library, 3rd floor

Start Date

18-3-2016 12:00 PM

End Date

18-3-2016 6:00 PM

Abstract

Statistics concerning disease prevalence are often framed and presented by the media to explain how likely an individual is to contract a particular disease, but Prospect Theory proposes that the wording used to present such statistics could influence the public’s perception of the disease. Based on Prospect Theory our hypothesis is that participants will perceive an illness as more threatening to their own health if statistics are presented negatively (chance of developing an illness) versus presented in a positive way (chance of NOT developing an illness). Secondly, we hypothesize that presentation of an acute illness will decrease an individual’s perception of risk and a chronic illness will increase an individual’s perception of risk. To test this, thirty-six participants were randomly assigned to one of four scenarios: (1) 50% chance of developing an acute illness (2) 50% chance of NOT developing an acute illness (3) 50% chance of developing a chronic illness and (4) 50% chance of not developing a chronic illness. Afterwards, participants will complete a Perceived Risk of Health Scale to assess their perceived risk of developing the illness, with higher scores reflecting higher levels of perceived health risk and lower scores reflecting lower levels of perceived health risk. We expect that the results will confirm our hypotheses as stated above, which will show that health statistics can be manipulated to influence the public’s opinion about health risk.

Department

Psychology

Faculty Advisor

Jenni Karl

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Mar 18th, 12:00 PM Mar 18th, 6:00 PM

How the Presentation of Health Statistics and Severity of Illness Influence Perceived Risk

House of Learning Library, 3rd floor

Statistics concerning disease prevalence are often framed and presented by the media to explain how likely an individual is to contract a particular disease, but Prospect Theory proposes that the wording used to present such statistics could influence the public’s perception of the disease. Based on Prospect Theory our hypothesis is that participants will perceive an illness as more threatening to their own health if statistics are presented negatively (chance of developing an illness) versus presented in a positive way (chance of NOT developing an illness). Secondly, we hypothesize that presentation of an acute illness will decrease an individual’s perception of risk and a chronic illness will increase an individual’s perception of risk. To test this, thirty-six participants were randomly assigned to one of four scenarios: (1) 50% chance of developing an acute illness (2) 50% chance of NOT developing an acute illness (3) 50% chance of developing a chronic illness and (4) 50% chance of not developing a chronic illness. Afterwards, participants will complete a Perceived Risk of Health Scale to assess their perceived risk of developing the illness, with higher scores reflecting higher levels of perceived health risk and lower scores reflecting lower levels of perceived health risk. We expect that the results will confirm our hypotheses as stated above, which will show that health statistics can be manipulated to influence the public’s opinion about health risk.