Better Safe Than Sorry

Marissa M

Why does the click-through rate on threatening headlines far exceed those that are more benign?  Calling something a threat through a provocative headline or soundbite initiates a biological reaction that almost compels a person to find out more, but why is that?  Multnomah County, OR Chief Operating Officer Marissa Madrigal (Masters 1605/1606 aka 1611) explores how the process of securitization (declaring something is an external threat) initiates a neurobiological process that often causes people to adopt a ‘better safe than sorry’ posture when deciding what actions to take in response to the perceived threat.  Her research found evidence that this behavior is having an impact on homeland security-related decisions by creating a bias toward compulsive precautionary behavior rather than clear-minded cognitive reassessment and that our predictable behavior can be used against us.

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