Presents results of an investigation into the occurrence of optimistic bias in relation to both positive and negative events, using absolute judgements to assess perceived risk for each of six events. Participants were asked why they offered different ratings for themselves and for others. The results showed that optimistic bias is a pervasive phenomenon that occurs for both positive and negative events. It occurred for all six events when comparisons were made with an unspecified person of the same age and sex, and occurred for three of six events when comparisons were made with the same‐sex best friend. Participants could provide information about their own behaviour that they felt justified their positive outlook; however, they implicitly assumed that the comparison target did not engage in the same behaviour. Concludes that risk‐reduction education needs to be made personally relevant to the target audience.
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