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Healthy Choices

orly Lobel
University of San Diego School of Law
On Amir
orly Lobel
University of San Diego School of Law
Open Panel

Abstract

This study is part of a large experimental project on ways in which health policy can assist individuals when grappling with data, information processing and uncertainty. The study, which has received the 2010-2011 Robert Wood Johnson Grant Award, examines questions of cognitive depletion, judgment and decision-making in several central health policy contexts. The reported findings in this article pertain to perceptions on health warnings. In an experimental setting, we show that people tend to perceive warnings of mixed side-effects – including possibilities of both mild and severe effects -- as presenting similar risks as the merely mild side-effects (and far away from their perception of the merely severe side-effect). The article argues that regulators and courts, including state and international regulations on drug warnings, should consider such effects in a range of rules and doctrines. The article also presents the growing body of cognitive depletion research and the experimental design for testing depletion in the next stages of the experimental project. The article demonstrates ways in which regulation can operate as a background for better private decision-making, especially in contexts in which there are large information assymetries and consumer/corporation dynamics.