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Dinner with Bayes: On the Revision of Risk Beliefs

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  • Hammitt, James K.
  • Rheinberger, Christoph

Abstract

Abstract We study how people form and revise health risk beliefs based on food safety information. In an online experiment, subjects stated their perceived risk of contracting a foodborne illness before and after receiving information about the population average risk and the eating habits of the average consumer. Precautionary effort in handling and preparing food reduced prior risk beliefs, but did not affect the belief revision process. About one quarter of subjects either fully ignored the information provided or revised their beliefs inconsistently with the Bayesian learning hypothesis. We find several factors related to the subjects’ numerical skills that explain information refusal and inconsistent belief revisions and discuss them in the context of health risks.
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Suggested Citation

  • Hammitt, James K. & Rheinberger, Christoph, 2015. "Dinner with Bayes: On the Revision of Risk Beliefs," TSE Working Papers 15-574, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:29293
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    JEL classification:

    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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