Cover: Assessing Small Non-Zero Perceptions of Chance

Assessing Small Non-Zero Perceptions of Chance

The Case of H1N1 (Swine) Flu Risks

Published in: Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, v. 42, no. 2, Apr. 2011, p. 145-159

Posted on on April 01, 2011

by Wandi Bruine de Bruin, Andrew M. Parker, Jürgen Maurer

Feelings of invulnerability, seen in judgments of 0% risk, can reflect misunderstandings of risk and risk behaviors, suggesting increased need for risk communication. However, judgments of 0% risk may be given by individuals who feel invulnerable, and by individuals who are rounding from small non-zero probabilities. We examined the effect of allowing participants to give more precise responses in the 0-1% range on the validity of reported probability judgments. Participants assessed probabilities for getting H1N1 influenza and dying from it conditional on infection, using a 0-100% visual linear scale. Those responding in the 0-1% range received a follow-up question with more options in that range. This two-step procedure reduced the use of 0% and increased the resolution of responses in the 0-1% range. Moreover, revised probability responses improved predictions of attitudes and self-reported behaviors. Hence, our two-step procedure allows for more precise and more valid measurement of perceived invulnerability.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.