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About the Site:

This is the blog for the book Medical Decision Making: A Physician's Guide, by Alan Schwartz and George Bergus (Cambridge University Press, 2008). The book is now available from Cambridge University Press

About the Authors:

Alan Schwartz, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Medical Education and Pediatrics at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, where he teaches and conducts research on physician and patient decision making.

George Bergus, M.D., M.A. is the Dr. William and Sondra Myers Family Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, and Co-Director of the Family Practice/Psychiatry Residency program. He holds a Certificate of Additional Qualification in Geriatrics.

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Decision psychology and swine flu

May 5th, 2009 by Alan Schwartz

Behavioral economist (and 2009 President of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making) Dan Ariely appeared on NPR’s Marketplace to discuss reasons for the swine flu panic. Read or listen to the interview here.

He focuses on the difference between the value of an identified life and a statistical life, as well as the impact of uncontrollability on risk perception (part of the constellation of factors Paul Slovic has referred to as being associated with “dread risk”).

The availability heuristic is also relevant here – there is very little reporting of deaths associated with seasonal flu and a lot of reporting about potential new strains. This leads to an underestimate of the risk of seasonal flu, even in the young and elderly.

Posted in Beyond the individual, Decision Making, Understanding uncertainty, Valuing health | No Comments »

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