COLLEGE, MENTAL HEALTH, AND A VIOLENT STUDENT: EMPLOYING NUMERICAL FORMATS TO COMMUNICATE RISK ON CAMPUS
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College, mental health, and a violent student: employing numerical formats to communicate risk on campus

 

Non-experts, including college administrators, professors, and students are often faced with risk assessment decisions on campus. Despite this fact, there are few accepted professional standards for presenting statistical risk and far fewer recommendations for the communication of violence risk. Existing systematic reviews are both incomplete and limited in scope and more troubling are the contradictory conclusions and competing recommendations for the communication of information that is essential to decision-making. In this article, three directions in the violence risk communication literature were given attention. First, non-experts were asked to make risk estimates using information from an expert source. Second, this project moves research attention to an important domain, campus violence. Finally, multiple outcome variables were assessed in an effort to extend the scope of research beyond Bayesian reasoning. Measured outcomes included: risk judgments, linguistic features, and affective processing as put forth by the affective processing theories. When the effect of estimating or communicating risk as a probability was compared to a frequency: frequency evidence was rated as less confusing and easier to understand.

Keywords: Risk perception, violence, affect, cognitive processing, health communication

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