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A Psychological Study of the Inverse Relationship Between Perceived Risk and Perceived Benefit

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2 To whom correspondence should be addressed at Decision Research, 1201 Oak Street, Eugene, Oregon 97401.

Abstract

Judgments of risk and judgments of benefit have been found to be inversely related. Activities or technologies that are judged high in risk tend to be judged low in benefit, and vice versa. In the present study, we examine this inverse relationship in detail, using two measures of relationship between risk and benefit. We find that the inverse relationship is robust and indicative of a confounding of risk and benefit in people's minds. This confounding is linked to a person's overall evaluation of an activity or technology. Theoretical and practical implications of this risk-benefit confounding are discussed.

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