Factors Affecting Judgments of Prevalence and Representation: Implications for Public Policy and Marketing


Journal of Public Policy & Marketing

Spring 2013, vol. 32, n°Special Issue, pp.112-118

Departments: Marketing, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Minorities, Frequency estimation, Advertising models, Television, Public policy, Media issues

Public policies are typically established to eliminate important social problems (e.g., minority discrimination, crime, poverty). In addition, the importance of these problems, and urgency people feel about addressing them, is influenced by perceptions of their prevalence. These perceptions, however, can be unwittingly biased by extraneous sources of information that lead some people to either overestimate or underestimate the seriousness of the problem at hand. The authors review empirical work on the construction of perceptions of frequency and representativeness and the processes that underlie them. They show that these perceptions are often biased in ways that differ over segments of the population. They conclude with a discussion of implications of these findings for developing public policy initiatives and de-biasing strategies