The Psychology of Protective Behavior
What determines whether people will protect themselves against the severe losses that might arise from some low-probability hazard? What factors underlie the perception and acceptability of technological risks? The answers to such questions are vital for understanding how people cope with threats from accidents, diseases, and natural hazards and for helping them manage their lives more effectively in the face of such risks. This paper discusses the role that the psychological study of judgment and decision processes can play in providing answers to these questions. Recent experiments studying insurance decisions, risk perceptions, and the evaluation of technological risks are described along with the implications of this research for matters of public safety.