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Foreground-background salience effect in traffic risk communication


  • Tian-Yi Hu
  • Xin-Wen Jiang
  • Xiaofei Xie
  • Xiao-Qin Ma
  • Chao Xu


Pie charts are often used to communicate risk, such as the risk of driving. In the foreground-background salience effect (FBSE), foreground (probability of bad event) has greater salience than background (no bad event) in such a chart. Experiment 1 confirmed that the displays format of pie charts showed a typical FBSE. Experiment 2 showed that the FBSE resulted from a difference in cognitive efforts in processing the messages and that a foreground-emphasizing display was easier to process. Experiment 3 manipulated subjects' information processing mindset and explored the interaction between displays format and information processing mindset. In the default mindset, careless subjects displayed a typical FBSE, while those who were instructed to be careful reported similar risk-avoidant behavior preference reading both charts. Suggestions for improving risk communication are discussed. % abstract rewritten

Suggested Citation

  • Tian-Yi Hu & Xin-Wen Jiang & Xiaofei Xie & Xiao-Qin Ma & Chao Xu, 2014. "Foreground-background salience effect in traffic risk communication," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 9(1), pages 83-89, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:9:y:2014:i:1:p:83-89

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jonathan D. Cohen, 2005. "The Vulcanization of the Human Brain: A Neural Perspective on Interactions Between Cognition and Emotion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 3-24, Fall.
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