In the IMMERSIVE episode, “Risk,” our goal is to immerse you in a soundscape that pulled and pushed you to alternatively feel risk-seeking and risk-averse. To preserve this immersive experience, we stripped out a lot of the reporting we did on the science of risk. Here, you can find out more about the science of risk perception (scroll down for resources and full interviews). We’ll walk you through the episode, and point out materials – interviews we did with researchers, journal articles we dug up, books we read – that let you dig deeper into the research.
SCENE: You finally make it to the top after a long climb (after a strenuous skinning up).
WHAT THIS ILLUSTRATES: This should make you feel like you’ve invested a lot of resources and effort into an activity. Later, when you make a decision, this investment of resources can color your choice even though it shouldn’t if you’re objectively evaluating a risk.
FIND OUT MORE: Read Heuristic Traps in Recreational Avalanche Accidents.
NARRATION: You’re imagining this environment because it is the perfect environment because it’s the perfect setting to explore your feelings towards risk.
FIND OUT MORE: Listen to our interview with Leaf VanBoven below (starting at 03:40).
SCENE: You’re very close to skiing down the mountain. You feel the powder under your skis. The wind pushes on your cheeks.
WHAT THIS ILLUSTRATES: Proximity to something (especially something you find somewhat addictive) makes you perceive it as more rewarding than if you would be considering it from a distance.
FIND OUT MORE: Listen to our interview with Philip Fernbach below (starting at 39:00).
SCENE: WE ARE INVINCIBLE!
WHAT THIS ILLUSTRATES: When you are overconfident, you disregard evidence that contradicts your confidence.
FIND OUT MORE: Listen to our interview with McKell Carter and Kim Farrelly below (starting at 57:00)
SCENE: CINDY’S AVALANCHE STORY
WHAT THIS ILLUSTRATES: Hearing a distastrous result from an expert, which occurs from a similar situation to your own will decreases your confidence in taking the risk and makes you more risk averse. Of course, this is assumming you are not brimming with overconfidence.
FIND OUT MORE: By reading SEVERAL (most) of the articles below.
SCENE: My intuition is telling me something’s off. Come on, Jake, what are you afraid of?
WHAT THIS ILLUSTRATES: Groups heavily influence decision making during risky situations. Males are particularly good at evoking risky decisions. However, there is a lot of nuance in this dynamic.
FIND OUT MORE: Listen to our interview with Leaf VanBoven below (starting at 13:00 and 30:00)
SCENE: You’re normally cautious, so if you think it’s fine then I’m sure it’ll be OK.
WHAT THIS ILLUSTRATES: Contagious understanding. You can get a house of cards effect, where your knowledge in something rests on the belief that someone else in the community has done the intellectual heavy-lifting and have a solid knowledge of something. However, this is not always the case and many people can believe they have knowledge of something even though nobody does.
FIND OUT MORE: Listen to our interview with Philip Fernbach below (starting at 48:20)
SCENE: Question! Why is one type of snow better for avalanches? How do you know? You just guessing?
WHAT THIS ILLUSTRATES: In our lives, we often do not notice complexity because it’s cumbersome and doesn’t actually change our decisions. We have an illustion of knowledge. But in risky situations, complexity really matters and one way to poke holes in our normal knowledge illusion is by asking very simple questions, which will (hopefully) give you more pause and consider more factors.
FIND OUT MORE: Read Philip Fernbach’s book “The Knowledge Illusion”.Listen to our interview with Philip Fernbach (starting at 9:30).