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The effect of knowledge and ignorance assessments on perceived risk


This study investigated the effects of two different types of subjective knowledge assessments on the level of knowledge assessment and risk perception in five risk domains: health, environment, crime, economy, and transport (Appendix 1). The two types of knowledge assessments were regular knowledge assessments and ignorance assessments, in which the participants were asked to assess their lack of knowledge. Furthermore, the effect of the order in which the subjective knowledge assessments and risk assessments were performed was investigated. Four different experimental conditions were used to explore the effects. In the knowledge first condition, all regular knowledge assessments were performed, followed by all risk assessments. In the alternate condition, the participants alternated between the knowledge assessments and risk assessments. In the risk first condition, the participants performed all risk assessments, followed by all knowledge assessments. Finally, in the ignorance first condition, the participants performed all ignorance assessments, followed by all risk assessments. The ignorance assessments indicated higher subjective knowledge ratings than the regular knowledge assessments in the first three conditions. The order in which the regular knowledge assessments were performed had no effect on the risk assessments. However, the ignorance assessments were associated with the lowest risk assessments of all four conditions. The participants may have associated their difficulty finding examples of ignorance with a lack of risk.

Keywords: Subjective knowledge, risk perception, ignorance, retrieval difficulty, framing


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