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      Gist Representations and Communication of Risks about HIV-AIDS: A Fuzzy-Trace Theory Approach

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          Abstract

          As predicted by fuzzy-trace theory, people with a range of training—from untrained adolescents to expert physicians—are susceptible to biases and errors in judgment and perception of HIV-AIDS risk. To explain why this occurs, we introduce fuzzy-trace theory as a theoretical perspective that describes these errors to be a function of knowledge deficits, gist-based representation of risk categories, retrieval failure for risk knowledge, and processing interference (e.g., base-rate neglect) in combining risk estimates. These principles explain how people perceive HIV-AIDS risk and why they take risks with potentially lethal outcomes, often despite rote (verbatim) knowledge. For example, people inappropriately generalize the wrong gist about condoms’ effectiveness against fluid-borne disease to diseases that are transferred skin-to-skin, such as HPV. We also describe how variation in processing in adolescence (e.g., more verbatim processing compared to adults) can be a route to risk-taking that explains key aspects of why many people are infected with HIV in youth, as well as how interventions that emphasize bottom-line gists communicate risks effectively.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          101156990
          31844
          Curr HIV Res
          Curr. HIV Res.
          Current HIV research
          1570-162X
          1873-4251
          10 May 2017
          2015
          27 July 2017
          : 13
          : 5
          : 399-407
          Affiliations
          [1 ]Department of Human Development, Cornell University, USA
          [2 ]Departments of Human Development and Psychology, Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision Research and Cornell Magnetic Resonance Imaging Facility, Cornell University, USA
          Author notes
          [* ]Address correspondence to this author at the Departments of Human Development and Psychology, Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision Research, Cornell University, B44 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA; Tel: (607) 255-6778; Fax: (607) 255-9856; vr53@ 123456cornell.edu
          Article
          PMC5530869 PMC5530869 5530869 nihpa872696
          5530869
          26149161
          Categories
          Article

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