Affect heuristic as a function of trust in risk communication

Lin Wu1, Jing Lin1, Jing Liu1, Shuo-Feng Chang1, Yuan-Yuan Wang1, Zhi-Jun Liu1
1School of Philosophy and Sociology, Jilin University, People’s Republic of China
Cite this article:  Wu, L., Lin, J., Liu, J., Chang, S.-F., Wang, Y.-Y., & Liu, Z.-J. (2016). Affect heuristic as a function of trust in risk communication. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 44(4), 619-630.

Volume 44 Issue 4 | e5024 | Published: May 2016 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2016.44.4.619

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We examined whether or not decision makers’ level of trust in risk management institutions is an important determinant of their reliance on the affect heuristic for making evaluations and decisions. In Study 1 (N = 419), we examined how the delivery and context of warning information may influence individuals’ marginal trust in risk management institutions. In Study 2 (N = 414), we combined marginal trust with message probability to explore (a) how marginal trust and message extremity probability influence public trust in warning information, and (b) how public trust in institutions moderates individuals’ reliance on the affect heuristic in risk perceptions. In Study 3 (N = 45), we tested the generalizability of the moderating effect of public trust. Results showed that reliance on affect as a kind of heuristic was more marked among decision makers with a high, vs. low, level of trust in the relevant institutions.

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