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Osimani, Barbara (2012): Risk Information Processing and Rational Ignoring in the Health Context. In: The Journal of Socio-Economics, Vol. 41, No. 2: 169 - 179

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Findings about the desire for health-risk information are heterogeneous and sometimes contradictory. In particular, they seem to be at variance with established psychological theories of information-seeking behavior. The present paper posits the decision about treating illness with medicine as the causal determinant for the expected net value of information, and attempts to explain idiosyncrasies in information-seeking behavior by using the notion of decision sensitivity to incoming information. Furthermore, active information avoidance is explained by modeling the expected emotional distress potentially brought about by “bad news” as a disutility factor in pay-off maximization. In this context two notions of uncertainty are distinguished: an epistemic uncertainty related to the prognostic probability assigned to the risk, and an emotional uncertainty related to the expected damage. Health-risk information can both reduce epistemic and increase emotional uncertainty, giving rise to idiosyncratic processing strategies.

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