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University of Wisconsin–Madison

KEG publishes “Framing Risk with Numbers: The Framing Effects of Risk Assertions and Number Formats on Emotions and Risk Perceptions”

New article “Framing Risk with Numbers: The Framing Effects of Risk Assertions and Number Formats on Emotions and Risk Perceptions” in the journal Mass Communication and Society from the Cognitive Effects Research Group (KEG).

Abstract: This study examines how risk assertions and relevant statistics presented in different number formats interact to influence emotional and cognitive outcomes. Experimental news stories present risk assertions that highlight either safety from or vulnerability to violent crime; these assertions are accompanied by crime statistics in absolute frequency, simple fraction, or percentage format. Although it may be tempting to assume that national statistics in absolute frequency format create a greater impression due to the sheer size of the numbers, our results show that only probability formats, including simple fractions and percentages, interact with assertions to generate amplified emotions. Furthermore, we find that negative emotions play a mediating role in producing pessimistic risk assessments. Our findings reveal how people process numerical information and its impact on emotional and cognitive responses. This article also discusses the empirical and methodological implications for framing research, as well as cognitive aspects of emotional reactions and the nature of emotional effects on risk perceptions.

Full citation: Lee, B., Liu, J., Choung, H., & McLeod, D. M. (2019). Framing risk with numbers: The framing effects of risk assertions and number formats on emotions and risk perceptions. Mass Communication & Society, 22, 344-364.

Access the article: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15205436.2018.1536790?journalCode=hmcs20

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