Grasping the nettle of danger: a commentary on how people perceive their health risks, impacting on their health behaviours

Paul A. Maguire*, Jeffrey C.L. Looi

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Objective: To provide a commentary review, for psychiatrists and trainees, on the clinical relevance of risk perception for health behaviours and outcomes. Conclusions: The core dimensions of risk perception are how a person perceives the likelihood and severity of an adverse outcome in the face of a threat. The two fundamental modes of how a threat is perceived are a rapid, intuitive, affective response followed by a slower, deliberate, cognitive appraisal. Risk perception regarding health threats is influenced by: level of trust in the information source; immediacy; voluntariness; perceived consequences of the threat; an affective response of fear, especially a feeling of dread; familiarity with the threat, including past exposure; and factual knowledge of the threat. Perception of risk may by distorted by cognitive biases (heuristics), including optimistic bias. There is a strong and consistent link between risk perception and health behaviours, and, therefore, health outcomes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)608-611
    Number of pages4
    JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
    Volume30
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

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