Beliefs influence information processing strategies: Declarative and experiential information in risk assessment

To assess their risk in a particular domain, individuals may review domain-relevant behaviors. Thinking about these behaviors renders two sources of information available: the recalled behaviors and the subjective experience of ease of recall. Two studies (nā€‚=ā€‚1,177 students) demonstrate that individuals' beliefs about the domain can influence which source of information they use. Women high and low in Rape Myth Acceptance (RMA) were asked to recall few (easy) or many (difficult) behaviors that may increase or decrease risk for sexual assault. Women high in RMA relied on ease of recall and reported lower risk after recalling many rather than a few risk-increasing behaviors, or a few rather than many risk-decreasing behaviors. Women low in RMA relied on the content of recall, resulting in an opposite pattern of risk judgments. Findings suggest that women's rape myth acceptance does not only influence their judgements of rapists and rape victims but does also influence the strategy they use in assessing their own personal risk. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)