Monday, September 09, 2013

Study reveals why warnings may be ineffective at teaching young people about risks

Public release date: 9-Sep-2013
Contact: Jen Middleton
Wellcome Trust

Campaigns to get young people to stop smoking may be more successful by focusing on the positive benefits, such as having more money and better skin, rather than emphasising negative outcomes like increased disease risk, a study from Wellcome Trust researchers suggests.

The findings reveal that young people have greater difficulty in learning from bad news to interpret their risk of future events, which might explain why they often do not respond to warnings.

We all make decisions based on what we believe may happen in the future as a consequence of our actions. We change our beliefs and choices based on information we gather from the world around us. However, people have a natural tendency to ignore negative information when making decisions, a trait that may be particularly pertinent to young people, who tend to engage in more risky and dangerous behaviour.


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