ScienceTalk

Securing a better understanding of risk

Damage and destruction inflicted by a 2012 hurricane in the United States. According to the writers, dramatic and unusual events in the news lead people to overestimate the likelihood of those events occurring again.
Damage and destruction inflicted by a 2012 hurricane in the United States. According to the writers, dramatic and unusual events in the news lead people to overestimate the likelihood of those events occurring again.PHOTO: REUTERS

Insights into how people perceive risk can aid decision-making about an uncertain future

A mounting body of evidence in psychology and behavioural economics shows that people find it difficult to weigh evidence objectively when making decisions about an uncertain future.

Research on risk perceptions has drawn attention to the mental shortcuts or "heuristics" which lead people to overestimate certain types of risk while disregarding others which may pose a greater threat to their health and safety.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2019, with the headline 'Securing a better understanding of risk'. Print Edition | Subscribe