Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Perceived Risk

  • Yori Gidron
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_1554


This term refers to an individual’s subjective evaluation of his or her risk of an illness or an adverse outcome, often in relation to performing a certain risky behavior. This term maps onto the Health Belief Model (Rosenstock, 1966), which tries to model why people use health services or adhere to medically advocated healthy behaviors. Perceived risk, for example, can be in relation to having a myocardial infarction due to smoking or having skin cancer due to sun exposure or having an accident due to risk taking on the road. Relevant to perceived risk, Weinstein (1982) coined the terms “unrealistic optimism” and “unrealistic pessimism,” where people are asked to estimate their risk of having a disease or an adverse outcome, compared to people of their age and sex. Answers are rated on a Likert scale ranging, for example, from −5 (far below others’ risk) through 0 (same as others’ risk) to +5 (far above others’ risk). Levels of perceived risk could be related to prior...

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References and Readings

  1. Mann, D. M., Allegrante, J. P., Natarajan, S., Halm, E. A., & Charlson, M. (2007). Predictors of adherence to statins for primary prevention. Cardiovascular Drugs and Therapy, 21, 311–316.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Rosenstock, I. M. (1966). Why people use health services. The Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly, 44, 94–124.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  4. Weinstein, N. D. (1982). Unrealistic optimism about susceptibility to health problems. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 5, 441–460.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Medicine and PharmacyFree University of Brussels (VUB)JetteBelgium