Effects of active information processing on the understanding of risk information
Natter, H. and Berry, D.C. (2005) Effects of active information processing on the understanding of risk information. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 19 (1). pp. 123-135. ISSN 0888-4080
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/acp.1068
Two experiments investigated effects of active processing of risk information on participants' understanding and judgments. It was hypothesized that more active processing would lead to better understanding and differences in affective judgments (e.g. increased satisfaction and reduced perceived risk to health). In both experiments participants were given a written scenario about their being prescribed a fictitious medication. This medication was said to cause side effects in 2% of people who took it. Before answering a series of written questions, participants in the active conditions of both experiments were asked to carry out a reflective task (portraying the size of risk on a bar chart in Experiment 1 and answering a reflective question in Experiment 2). The results showed that active participants rated the likelihood of experiencing possible side effects significantly lower than passive participants (Experiment 1), and that active participants were significantly more satisfied with the information and judged perceived risk to health from taking the medication significantly lower than passive participants (Experiment 2). In both experiments, active participants were significantly more correct in their probability and frequency estimates. The studies demonstrate that active processing of risk information leads to improved understanding of the information given. This has important implications for risk communication. In the context of health, better understanding should lead to improved decision-making and health outcomes. Copyright (C) 2004 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.