The Inverse Relation between Risks and Benefits: The Role of Affect and Expertise

Joanna Sokołowska , Patrycja Śleboda


Although risk and benefits of risky activities are positively correlated in real world, empirical results indicate that people perceive them as negatively correlated. The common explanation is that confounding benefits and losses stems from affect. In this article, we address an issue that has not been clearly established in studies on the affect heuristic: to what extent boundary conditions, such as judgments’ generality and expertise influence the presence of the inverse relation in judgments of hazards. These conditions were examined in four studies in which respondents evaluated general or specific benefits and risks of “affect-rich” and “affect-poor” hazards (ranging from investments to applications of stem cell research). In line with previous research, affect is defined as good or bad feelings integral to a stimulus. In contrast to previous research, affect is considered as related both to personal feelings and to social controversies associated with a hazard.Expertise is related to personal knowledge (laypersons vs. experts) as well as to objective knowledge (targets well vs. poorly known to science). The direct comparison of the input from personal and objective ignorance into the inverse relation has not been investigated previously. It was found that affect invoked by a hazard guides general but not specific judgments of its benefits and risks. Technical expertise helps to avoid simplified evaluations of consequences as long as they are well known to science. For new, poorly understood hazards (e.g. stem cell research), expertise does not protect from the perception of the inverse relation between benefits and risk  
Author Joanna Sokołowska (Wydział Psychologii)
Joanna Sokołowska,,
- Wydział Psychologii
, Patrycja Śleboda
Patrycja Śleboda,,
Journal seriesRisk Analysis, ISSN 0272-4332, (A 35 pkt)
Issue year2015
Publication size in sheets0.75
Keywords in Englishinverse relation between risk and benefit; affect heuristic; expertise; abortion; stem cell research
ASJC Classification2737 Physiology (medical); 2213 Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
Languageen angielski
Sokolowska-Sleboda-manuscript.pdf of 14-09-2015
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nadbitka_the inverse relation.JPG 58.87 KB
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2017-03-13-11-17-11-413 (2).pdf 17.17 KB
Score (nominal)40
Publication indicators Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2015 = 1.495; WoS Impact Factor: 2015 = 2.225 (2) - 2015=2.535 (5)
Citation count*16 (2021-03-03)
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