Law & Economics Working Papers
Fearsome risks are those that stimulate strong emotional responses. Such risks, which usually involve high consequences, tend to have low probabilities, since life today is no longer nasty, brutish and short. In the face of a low-probability fearsome risk, people often exaggerate the benefits of preventive, risk-reducing, or ameliorative measures. In both personal life and politics, the result is damaging overreactions to risks. We offer evidence for the phenomenon of probability neglect, failing to distinguish between high and low-probability risks. Action bias is a likely result.
Cass R. Sunstein & Richard Zeckhauser, "Overreaction to Fearsome Risks" (John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics Working Paper No. 446, 2008).