Perceptions of Active Versus Passive Risks, and the Effect of Personal Responsibility

Ruty Keinan, Yoella Bereby-Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Not getting vaccinated or not backing up computer files are examples of passive risk taking: risk brought on or magnified by inaction. We suggest the difficulty in paying attention to absences, together with the reduced agency and responsibility that is associated with passive choices, leads to the perception of passive risks as being less risky than equivalent active risks. Using scenarios in which risk was taken either actively or passively, we demonstrate that passive risks are judged as less risky than equivalent active risks. We find the perception of personal responsibility mediates the differences between the perception of passive and active risks. The current research offers an additional explanation for omission or default biases: The passive nature of these choices causes them to appear less risky than they really are.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)999-1007
Number of pages9
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • decision making
  • judgment
  • passive
  • personal responsibility
  • risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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