Recollection Bias and the Combat of Terrorism
Viscusi, W. Kip
Zeckhauser, Richard J.
Survey respondents assessed the risks of terrorist attacks and their consequences and were asked how their assessments changed from before September 11 to the present. This paper analyzes those current and recollected risk assessments. More than half of the respondents exhibited what we labet "recollection bias": looking backward from 2002, 2003, or 2004, they reported that their forward-looking risk assessments did not rise after September 11. However, government expenditures and policies and evidence from insurance markets suggest that there were major risk increases in estimated risks. Respondents were generally witting to support airplane passenger profiling when the time costs of alternative policies were great and were supportive of strengthened surveillance policies to address terrorism risks as well. However, individuals suffering from recollection bias are less supportive. We labeL as "recollection choice bias" a link between policy choices and recollection bias.