Protective Measures, Personal Experience, and the Affective Psychology of Time


Ellen Peters, 235 Psychology, 1835 Neil Ave., The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43201, USA;


We examined the role of time and affect in intentions to purchase a risk-protective measure (Studies 1 and 2) and explored participant abilities to factor time into the likelihood judgments that presumably underlie such intentions (Study 3). Participants worried more about losing their possessions and were more likely to purchase a protective measure given a longer term lease than a short-term lease, but only if their belongings were described in affect-poor terms. If described instead as being particularly special and affect-rich, participants neglected time and were about equally likely to purchase a risk-protective measure for shorter and longer term leases. However, and consistent with prior literature, the cognitive mechanism underlying this time-neglect-with-affect-richness effect seemed to be the greater use of the affect heuristic in the shorter term than the longer term. Study 2 results demonstrated that prior experience with having been burglarized amplified the interactive effect of time and affect. Greater deliberation did not attenuate this effect as hypothesized whether deliberation was measured through numeracy or manipulated through instructions. The results of Study 3 indicated that few participants are able to calculate correctly the risk numbers necessary to take time into account. Two possible solutions to encourage more purchases of protective measures in the long term are discussed.