Causes and consequences of uncertainty about illness risk perceptions

Heather Orom, Caitlin Biddle, Erika A. Waters, Marc T. Kiviniemi, Amanda N. Sosnowski, Jennifer L. Hay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We identified determinants of uncertainty about perceived risk judgments and demonstrated that uncertainty is associated with lower engagement in risk-reducing behavior. We found that people likely have metacognitive awareness of when their judgments are overly pessimistic, resulting in uncertainty and that question context (more constraints) and people’s time orientation (future orientation) are associated with lower uncertainty. Uncertainty about conditioned risk judgments was associated with lower engagement in exercising and eating a healthy diet in order to reduce risk for heart disease. As a potential determinant of behavior, uncertainty about risk judgments merits further consideration for integration into theories of health behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1030-1042
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Health Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) received the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The research was funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (R01CA197351).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2017.


  • beliefs
  • coronary artery disease
  • diabetes
  • health behavior
  • health promotion
  • risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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