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Identity Protective Cognition

How Risk Perception is Affected by Identity Protective Cognition

There is a tendency to treat every event in our lives just like the previous. Instead we should focus on the current event as a standalone, unique, unrelated related episode (until proven otherwise). You go out on a bunch of calls one day and they’re all heart related. So, you go into the next call expecting the same. True there may be similarities and the experiences we have gained will help.

My doctor once said “you can be the first in your family to start a family history”. It proved to be true many months ago when a blood test revealed I was within a few hours of dying even though I just didn’t feel right. I had no personal or family history of this kind of ailment. I’ve had times over the years where I didn’t feel right and nothing much came of it. Time passed and I felt better again until the next time and the next time. A few days in ICU and an operation showed how wrong one can be. Seriously wrong.

During Hurricane Katrina a victim was remembered as saying that his house was over 100 years old and had survived more than its share of bad weather so he was going to stay put. He was right. The house survived but he died of a heart attack in his attic as the waters rose, alone, waiting for the storm to pass.

Nassau County Public Health has a 120 hour plan. When a bad storm is within 120 hours of hitting the area they start the plan which includes evacuation of at risk patients. No discussion. In this instance, time is your enemy and it doesn’t go back to get you. Identity protective cognition almost forces you not to change your mind. Your long held beliefs and experiences can be a hindrance in light of new events.

As I said earlier, similarities and experience are helpful. Very helpful. We don’t start out with a blank slate. That is where the confidence and competence comes that we need to deal with obstacles. We improvise, adapt and overcome.

If all else fails, remember what Lucy said in Peanuts. “If you can’t be right, be wrong at the top of your lungs.”

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