How Human Cognition Can Affect the Spreading of Diseases like Ebola

Science Daily - Taking a scientific approach to health communication.

If you were bitten by a bird, would you be concerned about getting sick? How likely would you be to seek medical attention? As it turns out, those answers may depend on your knowledge of other animals' susceptibility to disease.

In psychology, it's called inductive reasoning -- that's the process of generalizing information to novel scenarios. And according to a new study from the University of Sydney and Texas Tech University, inductive reasoning can play a big role in how people perceive the risks involved with animals and infectious diseases.

Dr Micah Goldwater from the University of Sydney's School of Psychology collaborated with Texas Tech assistant professors Tyler Davis, Molly Ireland and Jason Van Allen and independent research consultant Nicholas Gaylord.

Their paper, "Can you catch Ebola from a stork bite? Inductive reasoning influences generalization of perceived zoonosis risk," appears today in PLOS ONE.

Read the story here.