Consumers who self-diagnose are more likely to believe they have a serious illness because they focus on their symptoms rather than the likelihood of a particular disease, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. This has significant implications for public health professionals as well as consumers.
“In today’s wired world, self-diagnosis via internet search is very common. Such symptom-matching exercises may lead consumers to overestimate the likelihood of getting a serious disease because they focus on their symptoms while ignoring the very low likelihood that their symptoms are related to any serious illness,” write authors Dengfeng Yan and Jaideep Sengupta (both Hong Kong University of Science and Technology).
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