Formation and use of covariation assessments in the real world

Elliot J. Coups, Gretchen B. Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In this study we examined covariation assessments made using real-world information held by individual participants about an important preventive health behaviour: receiving an influenza vaccine ('flu shot'). Four hundred and seventy-seven healthy adult participants completed a questionnaire, indicating both their personal experience and vicarious experience (knowledge of other people's experiences) with the flu shot and the flu. Additionally, participants provided a covariation assessment by indicating how effective they thought the flu shot is in preventing the flu. We examined whether the experience information was related to the covariation assessment, and whether it in turn was related to the decision to receive a flu shot. Our results indicated that people use a simple intuitive strategy to combine their personal experience information. For vicarious experience information, we found evidence for use of a normative strategy, as well as simpler intuitive strategies. Consistent with our hypothesis, both types of experience information were associated with the effectiveness judgement, which was subsequently related to the decision to obtain a flu shot. Practical applications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-71
Number of pages21
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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