Much Ado About Nothing: The Zero Effect in Life-Saving Decisions

Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Forthcoming

18 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2018

See all articles by Yufeng Zhang

Yufeng Zhang

Decision Research; University of Oregon; Tsinghua University

Paul Slovic

Decision Research; University of Oregon - Department of Psychology

Date Written: July 11, 2017

Abstract

Zero is a special value in our daily lives, and previous research on how zero values affect decision making leaves many questions to be explored. The present research examined the zero effect in life-saving decisions and found that people expressed strong preferences for options offering a possibility that no one will die, even when the expected loss was relatively high. The prominence effect was proposed as one possible explanation, i.e., the notion that the option with possibly zero deaths is easy to defend and justify. Furthermore, we also found the zero effect in these life-saving decisions occurs only in loss framing rather than gain framing. We discuss the relationship between the zero effect, domain, framing, and evaluation mode.

Keywords: zero effect; life-saving decisions

Suggested Citation

Zhang, Yufeng and Slovic, Paul, Much Ado About Nothing: The Zero Effect in Life-Saving Decisions (July 11, 2017). Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Forthcoming . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3182677

Yufeng Zhang

Decision Research ( email )

1201 Oak St Ste 200
Eugene, OR 97401
United States

University of Oregon ( email )

1280 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
United States

Tsinghua University ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

Paul Slovic (Contact Author)

Decision Research ( email )

1201 Oak Street, Suite 200
Eugene, OR 97401
United States
541-485-2400 (Phone)
541-485-2403 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.decisionresearch.org

University of Oregon - Department of Psychology ( email )

Eugene, OR 97403
United States
541-485-2400 (Phone)

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