Reduction of bias

One of the toughest issues faced by many professionals is attempting to convince people that they need to change their behavior – be it physicians encouraging weight loss and exercise, government officials encouraging evacuation, or counselors encouraging more productive behaviors. People refuse to follow advice in part because they simply believe that negative outcomes will not happen to them. Despite this general tendency, people are sometimes realistic or even pessimistic. Using predictions from dual process theory, we are investigating when and how people forgo optimism in favor of realistic evaluations. One project is a review of the literature to determine the factors likely to change optimism. Another project consists of a series of experimental studies to determine how analytic resources can be deployed to improve judgment.