According to the cultural theory of risk, people’s cultural worldviews can bias the evaluation of risks and benefits, even after reading balanced arguments on a given topic. This assumption was tested on two controversial domains, which were relatively novel for the chosen population: nanoscience and HPV vaccination. Participants (N = 339) evaluated respective risks and benefits, either without or after reading balanced arguments. Contrary to earlier findings, positive perception of nanoscience was associated with egalitarianism. Worldviews of the pro- and con advocate of nanoscience influenced risk perception among people with little prior knowledge. Assessment of risks inherent to HPV vaccination was positively associated with hierarchism among men, negatively with familiarity among women, and sensitive to the worldviews of the advocates. We provide a discussion on how evaluation of risks and benefits in novel domains is affected by a complex interplay of cultural cognition, domain familiarity, personal relevance and general risk attitudes.
Institute of Experimental Psychology, Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dúbravská cesta 9, 841 04 Bratislava, Slovak Republic
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