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Evolution of Risk Mechanisms Stimulus-Response action Emotional System Rational System.

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Presentation on theme: "Evolution of Risk Mechanisms Stimulus-Response action Emotional System Rational System."— Presentation transcript:


2 Evolution of Risk Mechanisms Stimulus-Response action Emotional System Rational System

3 Stimulus-Response action

4 Fear - Mechanism for avoiding predators. Anger - Mechanism for combating rivals. Disgust - Mechanism for avoiding disease. Emotional System Mechanisms for avoiding danger in the African Savannah.

5 Rational System

6 Dual Systems / Process theories Emotional system –Heart / gut feelings –Evolutionarily old Rational System –Head / logical thought –Evolutionarily young, –probably arising with language

7 Human bodies, adapted to the African Savannah, now live in very different places. In the modern world technological advances have changed the landscape of risk. We rely on our rational system to protect us from these modern risks, which are evolving faster than our emotional system has evolved to deal with them. Risks have changed


9 Modern Risk Less Risky More Risky VoluntaryInvoluntary FamiliarUnfamiliar Low Dread High Dread Natural Man Made Numerous Small Scale Single Large Scale ReversibleIrreversible ChronicCatastrophic FairUnfair Less Vulnerable Vulnerable

10 Voluntary - Involuntary

11 Natural - Man Made

12 Single Large Scale – Numerous Small Scale

13 Reversible – Irreversible

14 Chronic – Catastrophic

15 Processing information about risk Systematic Processing –Detailed understanding –Slower –Relatively stable and persistent attitude towards topic Heuristic Processing –Superficial understanding –Faster –Attitude towards topic may change –Efficiency at the cost of sometimes drawing the wrong conclusions

16 Heuristics and Cognitive Biases Availability heuristic Representativeness heuristic Affect heuristic Loss Aversion Confirmation bias Negative bias

17 Journalists “Seek Truth and Report It” but they also have to sell newspapers to keep their jobs. They implicitly exploit our evolutionary worries and interests e.g. more bad news than good. They attempt to present a balanced argument which can distort non 50/50 arguments What is the motivation of the person selling the idea? The role of the media, advertisers and other companies.

18 Advertisers do the same Selling things by association and emotion, not logic and rationality.

19 Food Manufacturers Food labels that provoke an emotional response are more likely to stop us buying a product than labels that provoke a rational response.

20 Summary of Main Points We evolved to deal with risks that no longer present us much danger. We have 2 main mechanisms for dealing with modern risk (the Dual Process theories): Emotional and Rational systems. These mechanisms shape our interests and where we pay attention. Media and advertisers sell us news and products that feed these interests.

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