Risky Therefore Not Beneficial: Replication and Extension of Finucane et al.’s (2000) Affect Heuristic Experiment


Risks and benefits are negatively related in people’s minds. Finucane et al. causally demonstrated that increasing risks of a hazard leads people to judge its benefits as lower. Vice versa, increasing benefits leads people to judge its risks as lower (original: r = −.74 [−0.92, −0.30]). This finding is consistent with an affective explanation, and the negative relationship is often presented as evidence for an affect heuristic. In two well-powered studies, using a more stringent analytic strategy, we replicated the original finding. We observed a strong negative relationship between judgments of risks and benefits across three technologies, although we do find that there was no change in risks when highlighting low benefits. We note that risks seem to be more responsive to manipulation (as opposed to benefits) and find evidence that the negative relationship can depend on incidental mood. We provided materials, data sets, and analyses on https://osf.io/sufjn/?view_only=6f8f5dc6ff524149a4ed5c6de9296ae8 .

Social Psychological and Personality Science

Add the full text or supplementary notes for the publication here using Markdown formatting.