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Fuzzy-trace theory explains how people remember, reason, and decide. The theory has been applied to a variety of domains in health and medical decision making, including HIV prevention, cardiovascular disease, surgical risk, genetic risk, and cancer prevention and control. Within these domains, it explains the mysteries of framing effects, ratio bias, frequency-formatting effects, and base-rate neglect, among other classic phenomena. Fuzzy-trace theory has led to the discovery of new, counterintuitive effects too. For example, studies show that adolescents think about risks more logically and quantitatively than mature adults do, which, paradoxically, promotes risk taking—a surprising but predicted effect.

Fuzzy-trace theory has been applied to a variety of populations, including patients and physicians. As a developmental theory, it focuses on changes in memory, reasoning, and decision making ...

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