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Overreaction to Fearsome Risks

  • Cass Sunstein
  • Richard Zeckhauser

    ()

Fearsome risks are those that stimulate strong emotional responses. Such risks, which usually involve high consequences, tend to have low probabilities, since life today is no longer nasty, brutish and short. In the face of a low-probability fearsome risk, people often exaggerate the benefits of preventive, risk-reducing, or ameliorative measures. In both personal life and politics, the result is damaging overreactions to risks. We offer evidence for the phenomenon of probability neglect, failing to distinguish between high and low-probability risks. Action bias is a likely result.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10640-010-9449-3
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Article provided by European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists in its journal Environmental and Resource Economics.

Volume (Year): 48 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (March)
Pages: 435-449

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Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:48:y:2011:i:3:p:435-449
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100263

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  1. Patt, Anthony & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2000. " Action Bias and Environmental Decisions," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 45-72, July.
  2. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521791991 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  4. James T. Hamilton & W. Kip Viscusi, 1999. "Calculating Risks?: The Spatial and Political Dimensions of Hazardous Waste Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262082780, June.
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