Perceived risk, risk acceptability, and behavior

Some risks are taken for granted, others result in volatile reactions from the public. This longstanding research line of our lab started off with research on the acceptability of nuclear energy and nuclear waste. Trusting others to control the risk is one way to make a risk acceptable. Recent controversies regarding the vaccination against Mexican flu, the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico and underground CO2 storage in the Netherlands illustrate that trust is far from obvious. In the aim to gain more insight into the role of trust in the context of risks, we investigate antecedents of trust, and how trust influences the acceptability of such risks. This line of research also addresses the impact of perceived risk on behavior. This research tends to emphasize the impact of perceived risk on preventive health behavior, but also addresses risk and consumer behavior and insurance behavior to name just two examples. Both lines of research in this theme should help to design risk communication programs and also help to formulate policy solutions that can rely on public support.

Key publications:

van der Velde, F. W., Hooykaas, C., & van der Pligt, J. (1996). Conditional versus unconditional risk estimates in models of AIDS-related risk behaviour. Psychology and Health, 12, 87-100.

Zeelenberg, M., Beattie, J., van der Pligt, J., & de Vries, N. K. (1996). Consequences of regret aversion: Effects of expected feedback on risky decision making. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 65, 148-158.

van der Pligt, J. (1998). Perceived risk and vulnerability as predictors of precautionary health behaviour. British Journal of Health Psychology, 3, 1-14.

Nordgren, L.F., van der Pligt, J. & van Harreveld, F. (2007). Unpacking perceived control in risk perception: The mediating role of anticipated regret. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 20, 533-544.

Nordgren, L.F., van Harreveld, F. & van der Pligt, J. (2009). The restraint bias: How the illusion of self-restraint promotes impulsive behavior. Psychological Science, 20, 1523-1528.

Petrova, D.G., van der Pligt, J., & Garcia-Retamero, R. (2013). Feeling the numbers: On the interplay between risk, affect and numeracy. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 27, 191-199.