Risk perception refers to people's subjective judgment about the likelihood of negative occurrences such as injury, illness, disease, and death. In the field of health communication, heightened risk perception is considered an important antecedent to health-related behavior. The public's risk perception also plays an important role in setting regulators' and legislators' policy agendas. For example, if people perceive secondhand smoke to be a serious health risk, they will favor stricter indoor and outdoor smoking regulations. For these reasons, understanding risk perception is critical for developing effective health and risk communication strategies.

A dominant line of risk perception research assumes that people perceive risks based on how much knowledge and uncertainty they have about them. This assumption is based on the rational choice model of decision making, ...

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