Perceived Risk and Perceived Behavior

Risk Perceptions and
their relation to Risk
Article by: Noel T. Brewer, PhD., Neil D. Weisntein, PhD and Cara L. Cuite, PhD
Yazmin Brambila
S Introduction
S Risk Perception/Behavior hypothesis
S Accuracy hypothesis
S Behavior hypothesis
S Risk Reappraisal hypothesis
S Model of risk perception and behavior
S Method
S Results
S Conclusions
S Perceived risk can affect protective behavior and protective
behavior can affect perceived risk because of the complexity
of these constructs incorrect tests often lead to invalid
S Perceived risk is a central construct of most theories of
health behavior
S How is this question assessed?
Risk Perception/Behavior
S 3 hypotheses tested
S Behavior motivation hypothesis
S Risk reappraisal hypothesis
S Accuracy hypothesis
Accuracy Hypothesis (AH)
S Asserts that perceptions of risk at any given time properly reflect
one’s risk factors at that time. It is a descriptive statement about
the relation between risk perceptions and behavior but it does not
imply any causal connection between these constructs.
S Correlation often misinterpreted as a test of behavior
S Cross sectional design
S Useful for identifying information deficits and the need for public
or patient education
S Describes the effects of perceptions of risk on changes of
behavior. This hypothesis is about cause and effect
S For example:
“I feel at risk for Lyme disease, so ill get vaccinated”
S Longitudinal design
S Describes the effects of changes in behavior on changes in
perceived risk.
S Increasing preventive behavior leads to lower perceived risk
S An example:
“Now that I am vaccinated, my risk is lower”
S Risk questions need to specify a behavioral context
S Longitudinal design
Model of Risk
S Participants
S 3 cities
S 1005 start
S 745 at follow up
S Heard about Lyme Disease
S Not vaccinated
S Procedures and Measures
S Telephone interviews
Questions were asked to assess perceived risk
S Behavior hypothesis was supported by the data
S People that perceive risk to be high at time 1 were more likely
to be vaccinated by time 2
S Accuracy Hypothesis was also supported.
S People who had been vaccinated perceived lower risk at time 2
S Risk Reappraisal was also supported
BMH: the odds ratio (OR) of 5.81 meaning that those with high initial risk perceptions
were about 6 times more likely to get vaccinated than those with low initial risk
Higher risk judgment appear to encourage people to engage in protective behavior
AH: The odds ration (OR) of .44 meaning that one group was 66% (1 minus .44) more
likely to perceive lower risk than those that were not vaccinated
Risk perception “appear” to lead to vaccination because these are correlational findings
Members of the public often misinterpret their risk of health problems and correcting
these misinterpretations are seen as a way to encourage healthy behavior
It s important to not confuse the behavior and risk perception hypothesis as it would lead
to different/opposite outcomes
Complex relations between perceived risk and behavior require care in the information of
risk questions, the choice of study design and the selection of the statistical procedures

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