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      Public Attitudes and Beliefs About Genetics

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      Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics

      Annual Reviews

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          Abstract

          The existing research base on public attitudes about genetics shows that people's attitudes vary according to the specific technologies and purposes to which genetic knowledge is applied. Genetic testing is viewed highly favorably, genetically modified food is viewed with ambivalence, and cloning is viewed negatively. Attitudes are favorable for uses that maintain a perceived natural order and unfavorable for uses that are perceived to change it. Public concerns about control of genetic information and eugenics are evident, but their strength and relevance to policy preference are unclear. The pattern of attitudes can be explained by theories of attitude formation, and the existing base of information can be deepened and given more explanatory and predictive power by integrating future research into the various traditions that theorize attitude formation.

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          Risk as analysis and risk as feelings: some thoughts about affect, reason, risk, and rationality.

          Modern theories in cognitive psychology and neuroscience indicate that there are two fundamental ways in which human beings comprehend risk. The "analytic system" uses algorithms and normative rules, such as probability calculus, formal logic, and risk assessment. It is relatively slow, effortful, and requires conscious control. The "experiential system" is intuitive, fast, mostly automatic, and not very accessible to conscious awareness. The experiential system enabled human beings to survive during their long period of evolution and remains today the most natural and most common way to respond to risk. It relies on images and associations, linked by experience to emotion and affect (a feeling that something is good or bad). This system represents risk as a feeling that tells us whether it is safe to walk down this dark street or drink this strange-smelling water. Proponents of formal risk analysis tend to view affective responses to risk as irrational. Current wisdom disputes this view. The rational and the experiential systems operate in parallel and each seems to depend on the other for guidance. Studies have demonstrated that analytic reasoning cannot be effective unless it is guided by emotion and affect. Rational decision making requires proper integration of both modes of thought. Both systems have their advantages, biases, and limitations. Now that we are beginning to understand the complex interplay between emotion and reason that is essential to rational behavior, the challenge before us is to think creatively about what this means for managing risk. On the one hand, how do we apply reason to temper the strong emotions engendered by some risk events? On the other hand, how do we infuse needed "doses of feeling" into circumstances where lack of experience may otherwise leave us too "coldly rational"? This article addresses these important questions.
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            The affect heuristic in judgments of risks and benefits

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              The Essential Child

               Susan Gelman (2003)
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics
                Annu. Rev. Genom. Hum. Genet.
                Annual Reviews
                1527-8204
                1545-293X
                September 2010
                September 2010
                : 11
                : 1
                : 339-359
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Speech Communication, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602; email:
                Article
                10.1146/annurev-genom-082509-141740
                20690816
                © 2010

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