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Perception of Risk and Terrorism-Related Behavior Change: Dual Influences of Probabilistic Reasoning and Reality Testing

Denovan, AM and Dagnall, N and Drinkwater, K and Parker, A (2017) Perception of Risk and Terrorism-Related Behavior Change: Dual Influences of Probabilistic Reasoning and Reality Testing. Frontiers in Psychology, 8. ISSN 1664-1078

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Abstract

The present study assessed the degree to which probabilistic reasoning performance and thinking style influenced perception of risk and self-reported levels of terrorism-related behaviour change. A sample of 263 respondents, recruited via convenience sampling, completed a series of measures comprising probabilistic reasoning tasks (perception of randomness, base rate, probability, and conjunction fallacy), the Reality Testing subscale of the Inventory of Personality Organization (IPO-RT), the Domain-Specific Risk-Taking Scale, and a terrorism-related behaviour change scale. Structural equation modelling examined three progressive models. Firstly, the Independence Model assumed that probabilistic reasoning, perception of risk and reality testing independently predicted terrorism-related behaviour change. The Mediation Model supposed that probabilistic reasoning and reality testing correlated, and indirectly predicted terrorism-related behaviour change through perception of risk. Lastly, the Dual-Influence Model proposed that probabilistic reasoning indirectly predicted terrorism-related behaviour change via perception of risk, independent of reality testing. Results indicated that performance on probabilistic reasoning tasks most strongly predicted perception of risk, and preference for an intuitive thinking style (measured by the IPO-RT) best explained terrorism-related behaviour change. The combination of perception of risk with probabilistic reasoning ability in the Dual-Influence Model enhanced the predictive power of the rational-analytical route, with conjunction fallacy having a significant indirect effect on terrorism-related behaviour change via perception of risk. The Dual-Influence Model possessed superior fit and reported similar predictive relations between intuitive-experiential and analytical-rational routes and terrorism-related behaviour change. The discussion critically examines these findings in relation to dual-processing frameworks. This includes considering the limitations of current operationalisations and recommendations for future research that align outcomes and subsequent work more closely to specific dual-process models.

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