Publications

Constructing perceptions of vulnerability: Personal relevance and the use of experiential information in health judgments

The perceived self-relevance of a health issue determined whether participants relied on recalled content or experienced ease of recall in assessing risk. Participants recalled either three or eight behaviors that increase or decrease risk of heart disease. Although recalling three risk factors was relatively easy, people had difficulty recalling eight risk factors. When heart disease was not considered self-relevant, participants used a heuristic judgment strategy and relied on their ease of recall. They reported greater vulnerability after having recalled three rather than eight risk increasing behaviors and lower vulnerability after having recalled three rather than eight risk-decreasing behaviors. When heart disease was considered self-relevant, people used a systematic processing strategy and relied on the content of the information recalled. They reported greater (lower) vulnerability after having recalled eight rather than three risk-increasing (decreasing) behaviors. Theoretical implications concerning the interplay of recalled content and ease of recall in judgment and applied implications for risk perception are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)