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      Unrealistic optimism about susceptibility to health problems

      Journal of Behavioral Medicine

      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          In this study, 100 college students compared their own chances of experiencing 45 different health- and life-threatening problems with the chances of their peers. They showed a significant optimistic bias for 34 of these hazards, consistently considering their own chances to be below average. Attempts to account for the amount of bias evoked by different hazards identified perceived controllability, lack of previous experience, and the belief that the problem appears during childhood as factors that tend to increase unrealistic optimism. The investigation also examined the importance of beliefs and emotions as determinants of self-reported interest in adopting precautions to reduce one's risk. It found that: (a) beliefs about risk likelihood, beliefs about risk severity, and worry about the risk all made independent contributions to interest in risk reduction; (b) unrealistic optimism undermined interest in risk reduction indirectly by decreasing worry; and (c) beliefs about risk likelihood and severity were not sufficient to explain the amount of worry expressed about different hazards.

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          Most cited references 13

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          Are we all less risky and more skillful than our fellow drivers?

           Ola Svenson (1981)
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            Self-serving biases in the attribution process: A reexamination of the fact or fiction question.

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              Judged frequency of lethal events.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Journal of Behavioral Medicine
                J Behav Med
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0160-7715
                1573-3521
                December 1982
                December 1982
                : 5
                : 4
                : 441-460
                Article
                10.1007/BF00845372
                7154065
                © 1982

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