Marie Helweg-Larsen

we wont get corona scaledDickinson College

Why Are We Optimistically Biased About Our Risks?: Applications to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Monday, April 6, 2020
Live Stream Event, NOON – 1 p.m.

The optimistic bias (thinking you are less at risk than other people) is well documented. This talk will explain why it is so pervasive and how it can help us understand complacency in following coronavirus precautionary behaviors.


helwegmMarie Helweg-Larsen is a social psychologist who examines why smart people do dumb things. Helweg-Larsen has examined the causes, consequences, and correlates of optimistic bias (thinking you are less at risk than others) as well as other health-related behaviors and cognitions. Most recently she has examined cross-culturally how moralized beliefs about smoking affect risk perceptions and willingness to quit smoking. In her current NIH-funded research she is examining the effects of stigmatization on smokers’ willingness to quit smoking. Last week Helweg-Larsen began a research project with two Dickinson alumni (Laurel Peterson ’06 and Sarah DiMuccio ’15) in which they are examining the gendered and political factors in the link between coronavirus risk perceptions and preventive behaviors.

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Video of the Presentation