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

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  • Mannberg, Andréa

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Mannberg, Andréa, 2012. "Risk and rationalization—The role of affect and cognitive dissonance for sexual risk taking," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 1325-1337.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:56:y:2012:i:6:p:1325-1337
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2012.06.005
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    Cited by:

    1. Gosnell, Greer, 2018. "Communicating resourcefully: a natural field experiment on environmental framing and cognitive dissonance in going paperless," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 89815, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Gosnell, Greer K., 2018. "Communicating Resourcefully: A Natural Field Experiment on Environmental Framing and Cognitive Dissonance in Going Paperless," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 128-144.
    3. Greer Gosnell, 2017. "Be who you ought or be who you are? Environmental framing and cognitive dissonance in going paperless," GRI Working Papers 269, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    HIV/AIDS; Self-control; Time inconsistency; Dissonance theory; Rationalization;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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