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The Link between Self-Control and Our Perception of Risk

The Link between Self-Control and Our Perception of Risk
October 05, 2018

A few years ago, researchers from Stanford and the University of Hong Kong released an incredibly interesting study. It was an attempt to understand why rational people, who are fully aware of the deathly consequences of smoking, continue to light up a cigarette every now and again. What the researchers found, however, was that there is a very strong link between how much self-control we feel we have and how we perceive risk.

Generally, individuals perceive risk in one of two ways. Either we think about the probability that something negative will happen. Or, we focus on the consequences of such a negative incident. Through a series of elaborate surveys and questionnaires, the researchers found that individuals who have high self-control are generally more concerned with the consequences of a negative event. On the other hand, individuals with lower self-control would pay far more attention to the probability that something bad would happen.

To make the study more real, the researchers took up the very relevant issue of heart disease. Currently, 45% of all non-communicable disease deaths in India are caused by cardiovascular diseases. First, the participants were made to answer a series of questions, which helped the researchers understand how much self-control they had. Then, the participants were quizzed about their health. The results of this study showed that individuals who had less self-control were more concerned when they were told that the probability of contracting a heart disease had increased. On the other hand, individuals with higher self-control weren’t as worried about the probability of contracting the disease. Instead, they were more concerned when they were told that the consequences of heart diseases had become twice as worse than previously assumed.

While the study helps us understand risk a little better, what we cannot neglect is the fact that we should take certain precautions to safeguard ourselves from any kind of risk – whether we’re more concerned with the probability of a negative event, or its consequences. Currently, we cannot deny the fact that lifestyle diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular issues, are on the rise. Whether we have high or low self-control, the issue here is that we could contract a heart disease at any time, or have to suffer the consequences of a heart disease, which could range from a small operation and a stent, to something far worse.

In order to prepare ourselves and fight the risks, insurance companies today have launched specific cardiac care insurance plans that offer financial help and stability to individuals dealing with heart diseases. While cardiac insurance may not be able to prevent us from contracting such a disease, it can help us pay for the hospital bills that come attached with the treatment of these issues. When you have a cardiac health insurance policy in your financial portfolio, it doesn’t matter how you perceive risk, all that matters is that you have the ability to deal with the problem at hand.

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Francis Rodrigues Francis Rodrigues

Francis Rodrigues has a decade long experience in the insurance sector, and as SVP, E-Commerce and Digital Marketing, HDFC Life, manages the online sales channel, as well as digital and performance marketing. He has had hands-on experience in setting up sales channels and functional teams from scratch over a career spanning 2 decades.

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Vishal Subharwal Vishal Subharwal

Vishal Subharwal heads the Strategy, Marketing, E-Commerce, Digital Business & Sustainability initiatives at HDFC Life. He is responsible for crafting and ensuring successful implementation of the overall organisation strategy.

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