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Risk and rationalization—The role of affect and cognitive dissonance for sexual risk taking

  • Mannberg, Andréa
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    In spite of increased awareness of HIV/AIDS, high levels of sexual risk taking persist among individuals in HIV susceptible groups. The lack of behavioral change has long puzzled both researchers and policy makers. In this paper, an attempt is made to disentangle mechanisms underlying excessive sexual risk taking. Drawing on ideas from psychology, related to decision-making processes and risk evaluation, an intertemporal model is developed and analyzed. More specifically, the theoretical model merges psychological theories of affect-induced myopia and cognitive dissonance with economic theory of utility maximization. The results of the theoretical analysis suggest that, if sexual arousal is associated with shortsighted behavior, the fear of an HIV infection may reduce the effect of HIV information campaigns via the effect of cognitive dissonance. The results further suggest that policy aimed to increase awareness of rationalization tendencies may constitute an important complement to existing AIDS policies.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): 56 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 6 ()
    Pages: 1325-1337

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:56:y:2012:i:6:p:1325-1337
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer

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