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date: 04 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Perceived risk is a rich and multifaceted construct that has a prominent role in many health behavior theories and interventions. There is strong empirical support for its influence on a variety of health-related decisions and behaviors, but it is often misunderstood. This chapter clarifies the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of perceived risk and describes a selection of individual difference and communication format variables that can affect it. The chapter also provides longitudinal/prospective evidence demonstrating that higher risk perceptions can motivate people to engage in healthier behaviors. Specific attention to clinical situations, information technology, and underserved populations is included.

Keywords: risk perception, risk communication, numeracy, Internet, theory, health behavior, medical decision making

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