Prof. Helweg-Larsen is the Director of the Social Identity and Risk Lab and the Glenn E. & Mary Line Todd Chair in the Social Sciences at Dickinson College. She uses social psychological methods to examine why smart people do dumb things. She has examined the causes, consequences, and correlates of optimistic bias (thinking you are less at risk than others) as well as other health-related behaviors and cognitions. In two NIH-funded grants she has examined cross-culturally how moralized beliefs about smoking affect risk perceptions and quitting intentions as well as the effects of stigmatization on smokers’ willingness to quit smoking. That is, does it help smokers quit if we stigmatize them?
As an expert on the optimistic bias, Prof. Helweg-Larsen has been particularly sought after during the COVID-19 pandemic to explain why the optimistic bias hampers our ability to assess risk. She has been interviewed about risk by the New York Times and NPR’s Market place and she is a frequent guest on NPR member stations across the US. In addition, she has discussed in print media and radio in the U.S., United Kingdom, and Denmark what makes for a happy country and the role the Danish concepts of “samfundssind,” “pyt” and “hygge” might play.
See list of media appearance here: