Framing effects in the evaluation of multiple risk reduction

Ilana Ritov*, Jonathan Baron, John C. Hershey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We studied how evaluation of changes in low-probability risks are affected by reference points and framing effects. Subjects considered hypothetical situations with one or two low-probability risks. Different frames were used to describe changes in risk levels. In the first experiment, subjects chose between risk-reduction options that achieved the same overall risk reduction: large reduction of one risk vs. equal (smaller) reduction of two risks. When the risks were described as losses relative to the no-risk ideal, more subjects were indifferent between the options than when the same options were described as gains relative to the status quo. In the latter case subjects preferred equal reduction of both risks, unless one risk could be reduced to zero. In a related experiment, subjects were less willing to pay any price for a commodity that carried small increases in two risks than for a commodity carrying a comparable large increase in one risk. In other experiments, subjects evaluated single changes in risks rather than comparing or evaluating pairs of changes. Subjects again placed particularly high value on reducing any risks to zero, and they were even more inclined to do so when some other risk would also be reduced to zero. In a final experiment, elimination of risk was found to be less highly valued if its source was not fully eliminated, and a status-quo effect was found. The findings are interpreted in terms of reference theories of choice.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)145-159
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Risk and Uncertainty
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • framing effects
  • multiple risk reduction
  • reference points
  • theories of choice


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