Paul Slovic

Paul Slovic
University of Oregon | UO · Department of Psychology

About

551
Publications
242,048
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
90,206
Citations
Introduction
I study the psychology of risk and decision making. Current interests are motivating action to preventgenocides and nuclear war.
Skills and Expertise

Publications

Publications (551)
Article
Full-text available
Compassion collapse is a phenomenon where feelings and helping behavior decrease as the number of needy increases. But what are the underlying mechanisms for compassion collapse? Previous research has attempted to pit two explanations: Limitations of the feeling system vs. motivated down-regulation of emotion, against each other. In this article, w...
Poster
Full-text available
Humans are likely ill-equipped to deal with the evolutionarily novel phenomena of mass atrocities like nuclear strikes. Hence, people may rely on alliance-based heuristics, such as their political party affiliation, to guide decision making. Past work has found a variety of individual differences in people's willingness to endorse the use of nuclea...
Article
Full-text available
Political polarization impeded public support for policies to reduce the spread of COVID-19, much as polarization hinders responses to other contemporary challenges. Unlike previous theory and research that focused on the United States, the present research examined the effects of political elite cues and affective polarization on support for polic...
Article
Full-text available
Dehumanization is a topic of significant interest for academia and society at large. Empirical studies often have people rate the evolved nature of outgroups and prior work suggests immigrants are common victims of less-than-human treatment. Despite existing work that suggests who dehumanizes particular outgroups and who is often dehumanized, the e...
Article
This study investigated the neural correlates of the so-called “affect heuristic,” which refers to the phenomenon whereby individuals tend to rely on affective states rather than rational deliberation of utility and probabilities during judgments of risk and utility of a given event or scenario. The study sought to explore whether there are shared...
Article
Social scientists and community advocates have expressed concerns that many social and cultural impacts important to citizens are given insufficient weight by decision makers in public policy decision-making. In two large cross-sectional surveys, we examined public perceptions of a range of social, cultural, health, economic, and environmental impa...
Poster
Full-text available
Attitudes Towards Nuclear Weapons and the Impact of Partisan framing
Article
This paper reviews principles from decision psychology relevant to understanding and increasing acceptance of urban recycled water, and supplements existing literature by suggesting an additional factor: adaptation insensitivity. We integrate into our discussion previously unpublished results from a study conducted in 2007, which surveyed 2680 resp...
Article
Full-text available
How likely is it that someone would approve of using a nuclear weapon to kill millions of enemy civilians in the hope of ending a ground war that threatens thousands of American troops? Ask them how they feel about prosecuting immigrants, banning abortion, supporting the death penalty, and protecting gun rights and you will know. This is the findin...
Article
Full-text available
This paper asks whether moral preferences in eight medical dilemmas change as a function of how preferences are expressed, and how people choose when they are faced with two equally attractive help projects. In two large-scale studies, participants first read dilemmas where they "matched" two suggested helping projects (which varied on a single att...
Chapter
In this chapter, we discuss the psychological aspects of financial decisions related to charitable giving. We argue that affect plays a central role in driving charitable decisions. In our selective review, we explore two psychological phenomena that are based on affect: compassion fade and pseudoinefficacy. The first phenomenon may be regarded as...
Article
Full-text available
The reliance on feelings when judging risks and benefits is one of the most fundamental valuation processes in risk perception. Although previous research suggests that the affect heuristic reliably predicts an inverse correlation between risk and benefit judgments, it has not yet been tested if the affect heuristic is sensitive to elicitation meth...
Preprint
Full-text available
Note: This is a pre-print version of the paper. There may be minor changes in the published version. Abstract: We present evidence from a pre-registered experiment indicating that a philosophical argument-a type of rational appeal-can persuade people to make charitable donations. The rational appeal we used follows Singer's well-known "shallow po...
Article
We are awash in information but are losing our ability to separate fact, fiction, and opinion. The spread of misinformation online has been named one of the top ten challenges facing the world today. This review describes the impacts of fake news, the psychological, social, ideological, and institutional factors that make people susceptible to bein...
Article
Full-text available
In this keynote address delivered at the 41st Annual North American Meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making, I discuss the psychology behind valuing human lives. Research confirms what we experience in our daily lives. We are inconsistent and sometimes incoherent in our valuation of human life. We value individual lives greatly, but thes...
Article
Full-text available
In this keynote address delivered at the 41st Annual North American Meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making, I discuss the psychology behind valuing human lives. Research confirms what we experience in our daily lives. We are inconsistent and sometimes incoherent in our valuation of human life. We value individual lives greatly, but thes...
Article
Charitable giving entails the act of foregoing personal resources in order to improve the conditions of other people. In the present paper, we systematically examine two dimensions integral to donation decisions that have thus far received relatively little attention but can explain charitable behavior rather well: the perceptions of cost for the d...
Article
Full-text available
Humans receive a constant stream of input that potentially influence their affective experience. Despite intensive research on affect, it is still largely unknown how various sources of information are integrated into the single, unified affective features that accompany consciousness. Here, we aimed to investigate how a stream of evocative input w...
Article
Objectives Publicity on incidents of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) exploding or catching fire may influence smokers’ risk perceptions and decisions about using ENDS for quitting smoking. We examined combustible cigarette smokers’ perceptions of the possibility of injury from exploding ENDS and the relationship of those perceptions to...
Preprint
Full-text available
The reliance on feelings when judging risks and benefits is one the most fundamental valuation processes in risk perception. While previous research suggest that the affect heuristic reliably predict an inverse correlation between risk and benefit judgments, it has not yet been tested if the affect heuristic is sensitive to elicitation method effec...
Article
Full-text available
Can we encourage people to prepare for a natural disaster by altering the way that scientific information about risk is presented? In assessing the risk posed by a particular hazard, people tend to be guided more strongly by their emotional reactions than by logical or statistical analysis; human beings are driven to protect themselves from risks t...
Article
This article memorializes Sarah Lichtenstein (1933-2017). Lichtenstein is aptly described as a "powerhouse in the field of decision-making research." In addition to her work on preference and probability estimation, Sarah, Baruch Fischhoff, and the author co-developed what has come to be known as the psychometric paradigm for the study of risk perc...
Article
Fake news about climate change refers to fabricated information that mimics the appearance of legitimate reporting but is intended to mislead consumers. In light of concerns about fake news regarding climate change and other topics, researchers and media providers have been searching for ways to limit its spread and influence. This study tested the...
Article
The high levels of public worry and distrust of authorities, especially as associated with nuclear energy and radioactive waste, are well established in the literature and in the experience of risk communicators dealing with the general public. Though much of the experience with the heightened sense of worry that accompanies planned exposure situat...
Article
Full-text available
Recent research on charitable donations shows that donors evaluate both the impact of helping and its cost. We asked whether these evaluations were affected by the context of alternative charitable causes. We found that presenting two donation appeals in joint evaluation, as compared to separate evaluation, increased the perceived benefit of the ca...
Article
Full-text available
Importance: Debate is ongoing about whether the scientific evidence of the health risks of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) compared with combustible cigarettes (hereinafter referred to as cigarettes) has been accurately communicated to the public. Large representative surveys are needed to examine how the public perceives the health risk of e...
Article
Full-text available
Transportation systems are one of the most frequent and high-profile targets for terrorist attacks, and such attacks can cause reduced or altered public travel behavior that can have severe economic consequences. Thus, understanding the relationship between transportation terror and public response is critical. We recruited n = 430 participants to...
Article
Introduction: Similar to cigarette smoking, consumption of cigars delivers nicotine and byproducts of tobacco combustion and elevates the risk of addiction, illness, and premature death. This study examined the relationship of affect, perceived relative harm, and LCC smoking behavior among U.S. adults. Methods: Data were from Tobacco Products an...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Tobacco companies argue that the decision to smoke is made by well-informed rational adults who have considered all the risks and benefits of smoking. Yet in promoting their products, the tobacco industry frequently relies on affect, portraying their products as part of a desirable lifestyle. Research examining the roles of affect and...
Article
Full-text available
Decisions to intervene in a foreign country to prevent genocide and mass atrocities are among the most challenging and controversial choices facing national leaders. Drawing on techniques from decision analysis, psychology, and negotiation analysis, we propose a structured approach to these difficult choices that can provide policy makers with addi...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Benefit–cost analyses of tobacco regulations include estimates of the informed choice of smokers to continue smoking. Few studies have focused on subjective feelings associated with continued smoking. This study estimates how smoker discontent and regret relate to risk perceptions and health concerns. Methods We analysed data from a 2...
Article
Full-text available
Public health agencies, the news media, and the tobacco/vapor industry have issued contradictory statements about the health effects of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). We investigated the levels of trust that consumers place in different information sources and how trust is associated with cultural worldviews, risk perceptions, ENDS us...
Article
U.S. airports and airliners are prime terrorist targets. Not only do the facilities and equipment represent high-value assets, but the fear and dread that is spread by such attacks can have tremendous effects on the U.S. economy. This article presents the methodology, data, and estimates of the macroeconomic impacts stemming from behavioral respons...
Article
Using an online survey with embedded experimental conditions, the study examines gender and generational differences in reader reaction to news reports of mass violence in Africa. Affective response from women was found stronger than for men on 9 of 10 measures of emotion. But the gender gap disappears when the story is personalized. Depending on s...
Article
Full-text available
We examine how presentations of organ donation cases in the media may affect people's willingness to sign organ donation commitment cards, donate the organs of a deceased relative, support the transition to an "opt-out" policy, or donate a kidney while alive. We found that providing identifying information about the prospective recipient (whose lif...
Article
Why does public conflict over societal risks persist in the face of compelling and widely accessible scientific evidence? We conducted an experiment to probe two alternative answers: the ‘science comprehension thesis’ (SCT), which identifies defects in the public's knowledge and reasoning capacities as the source of such controversies; and the ‘ide...
Article
Full-text available
In “Empathy and its discontents” Bloom (2017: see also Bloom, 2016) argues that we should abandon empathy as a moral compass in favor of compassion. Bloom’s central premise is that empathy is narro ...
Article
Full-text available
The power of visual imagery is well known, enshrined in such familiar sayings as " seeing is believing " and " a picture is worth a thousand words. " Iconic photos stir our emotions and transform our perspectives about life and the world in which we live. On September 2, 2015, photographs of a young Syrian child, Aylan Kurdi, lying face-down on a T...
Article
Full-text available
Prosocial behaviors are distinct in the way that they feature both positive and negative emotions, moral considerations as well as other highly cognitive determinants (i.e. calculations of utility and efficacy). When it comes to the influence of age related cognitive decline on decision making earlier studies (i.e., (Salthouse, 1996)) most probably...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: Although the impact of long-term use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) on health is still unknown, current scientific evidence indicates that e-cigarettes are less harmful than combustible cigarettes. The study examined whether perceived relative harm of e-cigarettes and perceived addictiveness have changed during 2012-2015 amo...
Article
Drawing from psychological research, the study examines how story form influences reader reaction to news accounts of mass violence in Africa. An online survey with embedded experimental conditions was administered to a US Internet panel (n = 638). Results show that how the story is told affects reader emotional response and, indirectly, charitable...
Chapter
Full-text available
Article
The singularity effect of identifiable victims is described as the greater willingness to help a single, identified victim than to help a group of victims with the same need (whether victims are identified or not), which occurs even when the single victim is 1 of the group’s members. The current research examines the development of this phenomenon...
Article
Full-text available
It is known that both the characteristics of the victims one can help and the existence of victims one cannot help influence economic helping decisions in suboptimal ways. The aim of this study was to systematically test if these two aspects interact with each other. In Studies 1 and 2, we created hypothetical charity appeals related to the Syrian...
Article
Full-text available
Older adults have been shown to avoid negative and prefer positive information to a higher extent than younger adults. This positivity bias influences their information processing as well as decision-making. We investigate age-related positivity bias in charitable giving in two studies. In Study 1 we examine motivational factors in monetary donatio...
Article
Full-text available
Research has demonstrated that two types of affect have an influence on judgment and decision making: incidental affect (affect unrelated to a judgment or decision such as a mood) and integral affect (affect that is part of the perceiver’s internal representation of the option or target under consideration). So far, these two lines of research have...
Article
Full-text available
One of the puzzling phenomena in philanthropy is that people can show strong compassion for identified individual victims but remain unmoved by catastrophes that affect large numbers of victims. Two prominent findings in research on charitable giving reflect this idiosyncrasy: The (1) identified victim and (2) victim number effects. The first of th...
Chapter
In diesem Kapitel werde ich in wenigen Worten die Psychologie des Risikos und einige ihrer Implikationen beschreiben. Dabei werde ich mit einer Untersuchung der Subjektivität beginnen, sowie den Werten, welche in der Definition und Beurteilung von Risiko inbegriffen sind. Ich werde argumentieren, dass es legitime, werte-geladene Sachverhalte gibt,...
Article
Full-text available
This article draws on the behavioral science literature to offer empirically driven policy prescriptions that can reduce the effect of bias and ameliorate unequal treatment in policing, the criminal justice system, employment, and national security.
Chapter
A defining element of catastrophes is the magnitude of their harmful consequences. To help society prevent or mitigate damage from catastrophes, immense effort and technological sophistication are often employed to assess and communicate the size and scope of potential or actual losses. This effort assumes that people can understand the resulting n...