Likeability of a stimulus/event lowers perceptions of risk linked to it


As previously mentioned, according to the advocates of the affect heuristic affect also refers to the emotional evaluation of the stimulus, i.e. stimuli/activities/events can be “liked” or “disliked”. This property of likeability is associated with the perceptions of risk. If something is “liked”, people will perceive its risk as low, while the risk of “disliked” items or events will be judged as high (Alhakami & Slovic, 1994). On the contrary, when we consider the perceived benefit - a concept quite distinct but related to the risk - “liked” activities will be perceived as having a high benefit, whereas “disliked” activities will tend to be perceived as low in benefit (Alhakami & Slovic, 1994). In other words, it seems that there is a negative correlation between the perceptions of risk and benefit given that the items perceived as high in risk are also perceived as low in benefit. This finding is surprising given that objective risk and benefit are usually positively associated in the environment (McDaniels, Axelrod, Cavanagh, & Slovic, 1997). Nevertheless, if we take likeability into the consideration, this unexpected association between (perceptions of) risk and the benefit is easier to understand (Alhakami & Slovic, 1994).

Note: See source document for full reference.

Applicable to: