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From group diffusion to ratio bias: Effects of denominator and numerator salience on intuitive risk and likelihood judgments

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  • Paul C. Price
  • Teri V. Matthews

Abstract

The group-diffusion effect is the tendency for people to judge themselves to be less likely to experience a negative outcome as the total number of people exposed to the threat increases --- even when the probability of the outcome is explicitly presented (Yamaguchi, 1998). In Experiment 1 we replicated this effect for two health threat scenarios using a variant of Yamaguchi's original experimental paradigm. In Experiment 2, we showed that people also judge themselves to be less likely to be selected in a lottery as the number of people playing the lottery increases. In Experiment 3, we showed that explicitly presenting the number of people expected to be selected eliminates the group-diffusion effect, and in Experiment 4 we showed that presenting the number expected to be affected by a health threat without presenting the total number exposed to the threat produces a reverse effect. We propose, therefore, that the group-diffusion effect is related to the ratio bias. Both effects occur when people make risk or likelihood judgments based on information presented as a ratio. The difference is that the group-diffusion effect occurs when the denominator of the relevant ratio is more salient than the numerator, while the ratio bias occurs when the numerator is more salient than the denominator.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul C. Price & Teri V. Matthews, 2009. "From group diffusion to ratio bias: Effects of denominator and numerator salience on intuitive risk and likelihood judgments," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 4(6), pages 436-446, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:4:y:2009:i:6:p:436-446
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Donald Dale & Jeffrey Rudski & Adam Schwartz & Eric Smith, 2007. "Innumeracy and incentives: A ratio bias experiment," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 2, pages 243-250, August.
    2. Jose-Luis Pinto-Prades & Jorge-Eduardo Martinez-Perez & Jose-Maria Abellan-Perpinan, 2006. "The influence of the ratio bias phenomenon on the elicitation of health states utilities," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 1, pages 118-133, November.
    3. Jose Luis Pinto-Prades & Jorge E. Martinez Perez & Jose María Abellán Perpiñán, 2006. "The influence of the Ratio Bias phenomenon on the elicitation of Standard Gamble utilities," Working Papers 06.16, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Department of Economics.
    4. Carissa Bonner & Ben R. Newell, 2008. "How to make a risk seem riskier: The ratio bias versus construal level theory," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 3, pages 411-416, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Danny Weathers & Scott Swain & Jay Carlson, 2012. "Why consumers respond differently to absolute versus percentage descriptions of quantities," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 23(4), pages 943-957, December.
    2. repec:eee:jobhdp:v:144:y:2018:i:c:p:112-124 is not listed on IDEAS

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