Broadly, our lab's overarching research goals are to understand:
1) How people think about their risk of disease and uncertain outcomes and when and why these beliefs predict behavior
2) Defensive responses to threatening health information
3) Common mechanisms underlying engagement in health behaviors
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Defensive Reactions to Threatening Health Information
Health information can be threatening and people use many defensive strategies to cope with threatening information. Self-affirmation, in which people focus on their strengths and values, can reduce defensive responses to threat. We are exploring ways in which self-affirmation can promote adaptive outcomes in health contexts.
Numeracy and Health Decision Making
Disease risk information is often presented in the form of rational numbers, such as 76%, ¼, or 2 in 8 likelihood of developing disease. Dr. Taber is collaborating with mathematical cognition researchers Dr. Clarissa Thompson (Kent State University) and Dr. Pooja Sidney (University of Kentucky), to examine how people interpret and understand numeric information. We have found that adults’ attitudes about numeric information are differentiated by specific types of numbers: they have more positive attitudes about whole numbers and percentages than fractions. We are currently conducting research to examine individual differences involved in errors people make when interpreting numeric information during health decision-making. As personalized risk information becomes increasingly available with the advent of precision medicine, there is a need to ensure that people are accurately interpreting numeric health information to optimize their health.