I am interested in understanding how people use, make sense of, and respond to environmental health information. Study findings showed that private well owners who tested their water for arsenic may inadvertently bias their cognitions to support beliefs of having good drinking water quality by recalling a lower test result or by choosing a ‘personal safety threshold’ that is above the arsenic drinking water standard.1 Similar findings were noted in research that explored how people understand and remember results from medical testing.2 People tend to apply cognitive biases to protect valued goals, for example goals of having good health or good drinking water.
Research suggests that abstract information may be more vulnerable to cognitive bias than concrete information. My postdoctoral research explores whether an image that concretely displays the well test result in relation to the drinking water standard facilitates accurate recall of test results without eliciting undue concern or distress. Usability testing will explore user preferences for the content and information architecture of information that explains well test results and government agency recommendations. Results from the visual display and usability testing research will be applied to develop an experimental ‘arsenic well test result’ web site that will be tested against standard well test information.
This research and my fellowship is supported by National Library of Medicine 5T15LM007359.
Click HERE to view Lori's Curriculum Vitae.
Severtson, D. J., Baumann, L. C., & Brown, R. L. (In review). Applying a health behavior theory to explore the influence of information and experience on arsenic risk representations, policy beliefs, and protective behavior. Risk Analysis.
Croyle, R. T. (1995). Psychological effects of screening for disease prevention and detection, Oxford University Press: New York.