The Perception of Health Risks

Britta Renner and Harald Schupp

in The Oxford Handbook of Health Psychology

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195342819
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 The Perception of Health Risks

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This chapter first examines how risk experts and nonexperts construe health risks and indicates systematic differences between the lay and expert risk estimates. Second, it analyzes the difference between general risk perceptions and personal risk perceptions, with particular emphasis on typical biases in personal risk perceptions, such as the optimistic bias and differences in personal risk perceptions across the lifespan. Third, it examines how people respond to health risk information indicating that they are at risk by highlighting the question of whether the core motivational fabric of reactions toward personalized risk information is made up of self-defensive or adaptive strivings.

Keywords: Health risks; risk assessment; risk perception; risk information

Article.  21533 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Health Psychology

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