Limited attention, emotional reactions, and difficulties in processing risk-related information, among other factors, may lead individuals to act in ways that impair their health or welfare. For example, warnings about mercury in fish can lead people to decrease their overall fish consumption and hence their consumption of healthful omega-3 fatty acids. Concerns about autism can lead to vaccine avoidance, increasing the individual’s risk of disease and the risk of transmission to others. Such behaviors may result from incomplete, inaccurate, or ineffective risk communication, or may occur even if the risk is well-communicated. Choice architecture, popularized by Thaler and Sunstein’s Nudge, also affects behavior. To promote welfare-enhancing decisions, better understanding of these causal factors is needed, together with innovative approaches for overcoming them.

Funding for this project is provided by the Risk of Risk Perception Project of the Center for Risk Science Innovation and Application of the Agriculture & Food Systems Institute.

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