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Pairing facts with imagined consequences improves pandemic-related risk perception.

Publication ,  Journal Article
Sinclair, AH; Hakimi, S; Stanley, ML; Adcock, RA; Samanez-Larkin, GR
Published in: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
August 10, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic reached staggering new peaks during a global resurgence more than a year after the crisis began. Although public health guidelines initially helped to slow the spread of disease, widespread pandemic fatigue and prolonged harm to financial stability and mental well-being contributed to this resurgence. In the late stage of the pandemic, it became clear that new interventions were needed to support long-term behavior change. Here, we examined subjective perceived risk about COVID-19 and the relationship between perceived risk and engagement in risky behaviors. In study 1 (n = 303), we found that subjective perceived risk was likely inaccurate but predicted compliance with public health guidelines. In study 2 (n = 735), we developed a multifaceted intervention designed to realign perceived risk with actual risk. Participants completed an episodic simulation task; we expected that imagining a COVID-related scenario would increase the salience of risk information and enhance behavior change. Immediately following the episodic simulation, participants completed a risk estimation task with individualized feedback about local viral prevalence. We found that information prediction error, a measure of surprise, drove beneficial change in perceived risk and willingness to engage in risky activities. Imagining a COVID-related scenario beforehand enhanced the effect of prediction error on learning. Importantly, our intervention produced lasting effects that persisted after a 1- to 3-wk delay. Overall, we describe a fast and feasible online intervention that effectively changed beliefs and intentions about risky behaviors.

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Published In

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

DOI

EISSN

1091-6490

Publication Date

August 10, 2021

Volume

118

Issue

32

Location

United States

Related Subject Headings

  • Young Adult
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Risk-Taking
  • Public Health
  • Perception
  • Pandemics
  • Mental Health
  • Male
  • Humans
 

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Sinclair, A. H., Hakimi, S., Stanley, M. L., Adcock, R. A., & Samanez-Larkin, G. R. (2021). Pairing facts with imagined consequences improves pandemic-related risk perception. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 118(32). https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2100970118
Sinclair, Alyssa H., Shabnam Hakimi, Matthew L. Stanley, R Alison Adcock, and Gregory R. Samanez-Larkin. “Pairing facts with imagined consequences improves pandemic-related risk perception.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 118, no. 32 (August 10, 2021). https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2100970118.
Sinclair AH, Hakimi S, Stanley ML, Adcock RA, Samanez-Larkin GR. Pairing facts with imagined consequences improves pandemic-related risk perception. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Aug 10;118(32).
Sinclair, Alyssa H., et al. “Pairing facts with imagined consequences improves pandemic-related risk perception.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, vol. 118, no. 32, Aug. 2021. Pubmed, doi:10.1073/pnas.2100970118.
Sinclair AH, Hakimi S, Stanley ML, Adcock RA, Samanez-Larkin GR. Pairing facts with imagined consequences improves pandemic-related risk perception. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Aug 10;118(32).
Journal cover image

Published In

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

DOI

EISSN

1091-6490

Publication Date

August 10, 2021

Volume

118

Issue

32

Location

United States

Related Subject Headings

  • Young Adult
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Risk-Taking
  • Public Health
  • Perception
  • Pandemics
  • Mental Health
  • Male
  • Humans