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FRAMING, CERTAINTY AND GENDER EFFECTS ON SECURITY STRATEGY DECISION: THE MODERATING ROLE OF RISK PERCEPTION

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CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

Every day, people are inundated with numerous decision scenarios, big, small and even those that could not be easily classified (Dietrich, 2010). Decision making reflects the process of arriving at a conclusion after much consideration has been made about which action to take and the ones to avoid, as well as the possible outcome of such actions (Ibeanu & Momoh, 1998). It is the process by which an individual selects from available options or alternatives after due or partial considerations (Coleman, 2003). According to Stanovich and West (2008), decision making is the act of choosing between or from two or more causes of action. People choose action or form opinions via mental processes which are influenced by their psychological, environmental and/or economical states at the time, and the perceived available cognitive and mental resources. Thus, individuals and/or groups always strive to make choices that could result in their physical or psychological well-being either on the immediate or long- term (Acevedo & Krueger, 2004).

The psychological and mental state of a decision maker is predominantly a function of the relative calm, peace, ease, security and/or insecurity available, and his or her perception of such safety and security. Security relates to the available peace, calm, and lack or absence of threats to the life of the citizens of a state (Adebakin, 2012; Bilings & Lisa, 1988; Daniels, 1999). Security implies the avoidance of harm or discomfort, provision of physical and psychological safety, freedom from fear and protection from physical, emotional and psychological injuries, and it has been shown to be the second most important need of humans after food, air and shelter (Maslow, 1970), and ranks as a major concern of individuals either in their domestic, workplace or religious domains.

The psychobiology of security (just as in other emotional reactions) shows that environmental stimuli are interpreted by the amygdale (the emotional brain) as friendly or threat to an individual’s psychological resources, and an interpretation of a stimulus as threat results in feeling of insecurity that manifests in muscle tension, increased heartbeat, dryness of the throat and mouth, sweating, irritability, trembling, frequent urination, hyper-sensitivity and alertness to loud or strange sounds, and restlessness. These reactions are nearly universal because they are caused by the activation of the autonomous nervous system which is the neural circuit that links the internal organs (heart, liver, kidney etc) with the brain (amygdale) (Nwanegbo & Odigbo, 2015).

Researchers (Ogbonnaya & Ehigiamusoe, 2012; Jou, Shanteau, & Harris, 1996) maintained that security or relative absence of threats to human life and properties has a significant impact on people’s ability to concentrate on a given task while insecurity results in role confusion, poor concentration, increased negative emotional reaction and work accidents. The authors documented the psychological implications of insecurity to include fear, anxiety, apprehension, poor concentration, poor judgment/reasoning, restlessness, among others. Conversely, increased work output, precision in judgment, adequate concentration, calm and psychological and physical well-being have been documented as a function of security or perceived safety of lives and property.

In a bid to provide adequate security to its citizens and staff members, different states/governments, organizations and firms adopt several long-term security strategies such as the alleviation of poverty, creation of jobs/employment, proper orientation and reduction of illiteracy which have been identified as risk factors of insecurity (Adetoro, 2012). Also, immediate short-term security strategies aimed at either maintaining an existing security situation or at curbing those activities that lead to insecurity and loss of life, such as insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, militancy as the case seems to appear in Nigeria are also adopted.

In most cases, weapon scanners, detectors and other security gadgets have been procured and used as short term security strategies at airports, seaports, land borders, government and private institutions, offices, banks, hotels, parks and checkpoints by both trained and untrained personnel. Individuals have gone ahead to provide their own personal security at home and offices, and this have led to the increase in private security firms, and most unfortunately, to the proliferation of illegal arms and weapons in the Nigerian society (Olaniyan, 2015; Amnesty International, AI, 2014; United Nations Security Council, UNSC, 2012). However, all these efforts by different persons and organizations at providing adequate security for themselves, their groups or citizens, underscore the importance of security for humans to function at their optimal capacity, as well as safeguarding lives and properties.

The decisions to adopt any of the afore-mentioned security strategies (often referred to as security strategy decision) is crucial owing to the scarcity of resources needed to meet human needs (World Health Organization (WHO), 2001), and people must make adequate plans to ensure proper utilization of resources in order to avoid waste. Adebakin, (2012), defined security strategy decision as the choice or choosing between the alternatives/options of using scanners, detectors or devices to search for illegal arms and ammunitions in the hands of unauthorized individuals and persons, by the state/security agencies, or to embark on massive provision of jobs for the youths to distract them from engaging in activities that undermine state security. It also refers to the different tactics adopted by the state security agencies such as the Army, Navy, Police and the Department for Security Services (DSS) to maintain adequate peace and secure lives and properties of the citizens of Nigeria. The current study is anchored on the definition of security strategy decision as the choice to use scanners and detectors at the various borders and checkpoints to checkmate the movement of illegal arms/weapons across Nigeria.

Decision strategy researchers (Dietrich, 2010; Spittal, Walky, McClure, & Siegert, 2008; McClure, White, & Sibley, 2009; Lee & Acker, 2004; Druckman & McDermott, 2008), have noted that decision making in general and security strategy decision in particular appear not to be as easy and simple as perceived, and is influenced by several inter/intra personal, psychological, situational, socio-cultural and economic factors such as past experiences (Juliusson, Karison, & Garling, 2005), age and personality differences (Fischoff & de Bruin 1999), believe in personal relevance (Acevedo, & Krueger, 2004), and situational variables like the amount of information available to the individual (Kuhberger, 1995).

When individuals are faced with situations that require them to take drastic (like in insecurity/war times) or thoughtful (like in business/investment scenarios) decisions, the choices they eventually make, has been shown to be affected by both their psychological, social and situational factors (Jepma & Lopez-Sola, 2014; Kazumi & Daisuke, 2011; Meong, Brent & Lisa, 2010; Mintz, Redd & Vedlitz, 2006), and notable of these situational variables is the way the information is presented to the decision maker. Researchers (Tversky & Kahnemann, 1981; Levin, Schneider & Gaeth, 1998) tried to present same information differently through their choice of words and appearance to respondents to observe how such structural changes in the presentation of the same information would affect people’s reactions to it. The phenomenon that people’s decisions are biased by the way in which information is presented has been demonstrated in a variety of decision making situations and is called framing effect (Kahnemann & Tversky, 1979; Tversky & Kahnemann, 1982; Kabnemann, Slovic & Tversky, 1982; Levin & Chapman, 1990).

Framing refers to the way in which a piece of information is presented to a listener by a speaker either in positive or negative terms (Druckman, 2001; Kazuimi & Daisuke, 2011). It refers to the presentation of a piece of information, that is objectively the same, in different ways or terms that could make people perceive it differently. For example, a cognitive researcher cum marketer may present an approved book for his or her course to the students with the information, “buying the book increases the students’ chances of doing well in the course by 95%” made available to one class, while another class were informed that “buying the book leaves them at 5% chance of not doing well in the course”. It is expected that the group of students who were informed that the book aids their doing well in the course by 95% will feel more eager to buy the book, while those who were informed that the book leaves them with 5% chance of failing the course would feel reluctant at buying the book, even though, the two pieces of information were objectively the same only that they differed in their presentation and emphasis (95% and 5% chances of doing well and not doing well respectively).

Framing has been classified into three basic categories 1) goal framing-which deals with different information on the various goals an individual aims to achieve in a given time and situation, 2) attribute framing-which deals with information concerning the distinctive features of choice options available to the decision maker, and 3) risk framing- which concerns the consequences of making the right or wrong decision (Levin, et.al, 1998). Each of these broad categories have their key areas of interest, however, the current study is anchored on risk framing and is concerned with the positive and negative presentation of information on the implications of making a good or poor, and succeeding or failing on a task. Xu, Broster, Wu, van Dan, Jiang, Fan & Luo, (2013) assert that risky framing effect occurs when two messages that are logically equivalent but differently phrased have divergent effects on people’s responses. Framing effect is said to be present when an equivalent description of a decision problem leads to systematically different choices by respondents. Risky framing effect(or risky choice framing, Levin, Schneider, & Gaeth, 1998) was initially employed by Tversky and Kahneman (1981) to describe the finding that simple changes in the wording of decision problems can lead to different preferences. For instance, they found in their seminal paper in which they introduced the Asian disease problem that despite all options being logically equivalent (but not transparently equivalent) with only the degree of risk inherent in the option differing, participants displayed a risk-aversion bias in the positive frame (72% choosing the certain option over the risky option). However, in the negative frame there was evidence of a risk-seeking bias (78% choosing the risky option over the certain option). Drawing on prospect theory Kahneman and Tversky (1979) argued that the wording of information makes people code the outcomes of identical options either as gains or as losses and their responses will reflect such coding.

Risky framing effect is a deviation from the rational choice theory (that decision making is only a thoughtful process that is devoid of hasty or situational forces), and a confirmation of the prospect theory that decision makers are influenced by both personal, situational and environmental factors (McClure &Sibley, 2011; Pinon & Gambara, 2005). It probes into the different mental and cognitive processes that impinge on human decision making exercises and the shortcoming of the human ability to lay absolute control of our decision choices (Mandel, 2001).

Decision making has also often been influenced by an individual’s level of confidence on the likely outcome and what he/she expects from a situation. This level of confidence has been termed certainty effect (Tversky & Kahnemann, 1979; Panasiak & Perry, 2013) and it reflects the sure-thing principle (Evren, 2014). Certainty effect connotes that people will make an investment or not if they are convinced that their expectation will be realized or not. Studies have also shown that when people are sure and confident about the possible realization of their decision choices, they tend to be risk-aversive or risk-avoidance, however, when they cannot guarantee the outcome that will follow their decision option, they would rather remain risk- seeking (Wu & Gunzalez, 1998; Agranov & Ortoleva 2014; Kazumi & Diasuke, 2011; Ikefuji, Laeven, Magnus & Muris, 2013). Accordingly, the certainty effect happens when people overweight outcomes that are considered certain relative to outcomes that are merely possible. It is a psychological phenomenon wherein a decision maker pays more attention or picks deals that he or she is certain to benefit rather than taking deals where the profit margin is not sure.

Ramirez and Levine (2013) noted that certainty effect refers to decisions made through the understanding of a probable option compared with a certain one or sure outcome. Studies in the domain of gambling behavior, insurance policies, healthcare, disease prevention, business investments, and political/voting decisions (Camevale, Inbar & Lerner, 2011; Johnson & Gleason, 2009; Weber & Chapman, 2005) demonstrate that when gamblers are sure of winning a given price (though little), they tend to bet on it rather than betting on a huge amount that their chances of winning is not known. People also, are more likely to take an insurance cover against car accidents in a populated city where accidents are more likely to occur than in the rural areas where there are fewer cars, 70% of banks are more likely to finance/sponsor a candidate in an election when the candidate belongs to the ruling party than sponsoring an opposition candidate, investors prefer investing in a firm or line of business where they are highly confident of recouping their investment in a known time.

In Nigeria, for instance, the certainty effect is often observed during Christmas and other festive seasons when most marketers (especially textile and rice dealers) invest nearly all their capital in goods that will be sold off within the celebration. Typically, certainty effect is observed in a situation where a seller comes up with two promo options: i) buy two items and get one free, and ii) scratch the coupon on the item and you may be a lucky winner of one. Research, (Evren 2014), shows that 80% above of buyers will go for the first option, because it has higher certainty of profit/gain outcome. The certainty effect reflects a practical demonstration of the underlying principles that influence human decision making on daily basis and it also portrays humans as risk-avoiding and pleasure-seeking beings. It also shows decision makers as always aiming to reduce loss and maximize gains/profit.

Decision making seems, also to be affected by interpersonal factors, such as age, past experiences, and gender. The topic of gender differences in psychology is fraught with controversy (Baron-Cohen, 2013). It is an area where people, for many decades, did not want to enter because of the risks of political incorrectness, and of being misunderstood. Gender differences are something that has always held an interest in modem research studies (Meyers Levy, 1989). Something interesting, especially in the past few decades have been gender differences in decision making, and researchers have been analyzing the differences between how males and females make decisions whether thoughtful, spontaneous or emotional.

Literatures have shown that, there are numerous physical differences between male and female brains In general, the left hemisphere is in charge of performing logic computations and processing facts, while the right hemisphere is dominant in processing visual imagery and context interpretation (Xu, Broster, Gu, Wu, van Dam, Jiang, Fan, & Luo, 2013; Kalat, 2007). The unequal development of the right and left hemispheres in male and females has led to differences in how males and females interpret environmental stimuli and make decisions on them. Accordingly, men are more utilitarian (tries to utilize objects) in making shopping decisions while females appear to be more hedonic (to express love and happiness) in decisions. Baron-Cohen (2013) found observable sex differences in decisions among infants. He noted that most females focus most of their attentions on social stimuli such as human faces and voices, while males pay most attentions to non-socials and spatial stimuli such as the movement of objects or a mobile object in their environment. Consequently, they differ on the decisions they make in different environment and situations.

Soeck and Baily (2008), and Wing, Benner, Petersen, Newcomb and Scott, (2010) have documented gender differences in decision making in the domain of healthcare, insurance, property investment, shopping and career choices. According to these studies, males are more likely to make thoughtful or calculated decisions while females tend to make decisions based on their emotional state. Mintz et.al (2006) demonstrated that males are more rational (considers all available options or maximizing), while females tend to settle with the first available likely option (satisfying decision makers). This implies that men tend to explore all available options critically before arriving at a given decision, whereas, females often base their decisions on the first information/option that appeals to their emotions without further consideration of other available options even though they may present a better alternative.

Rieter (2013) observed that male students would spend more time weighing the available options before arriving at a decision to choose a particular food in a cafeteria when compared with females, but when they are in a routine and a more natural environment (i. e, their homes), males are quicker to choose food options while females tend to spend more time deciding on the options before making a choice. The implication of this finding is that context and situational factors such as familiarity and novelty tend to moderate the decision making processes across sexes. Also, studies have shown that men make shopping decisions based on immediate needs while women place more emphasis on long term considerations, while on investment decisions, men tend to, be more future-considering than females. This occurs in areas like property investment such as land and residential homes. In the domain of emotional feelings, women generally make purchase decisions on a more emotive level, whereas, more of facts about the item. However, the trend and magnitude of gender differences in the domain of security strategy decision remains unclear.

The concept of risk is a psychological one. Risk, as opposed to danger, is a socially constructed phenomenon. Riskiness is based on perception rather than fact, and this perception is based on qualitative, not quantitative characteristics of the hazard being considered. The concept of risk is socially constructed and psychologically oriented. Comparisons of expert and lay judgments of risk illustrate that public assessments of risk are tied to qualitative, rather than quantitative, characteristics of a hazard (Hakes & Viscusi, 2004). Research shows that adaptive actions are motivated by awareness of the hazard, knowledge of how it can affect the feelings of personal vulnerability to the potential consequences (Peters, Vastal1, Slovic, Mertz, Mazzocco & Dickert, 2006).

Most of the studies investigating the effect of framing, certainty or gender on decision-making, often neglect the effect of certain vital processes that precede this stage (Blais & Weber, 2006). Despite the central role risk perception plays in human behavior, perceptions of risk are often overlooked when the relationship between risky framing, certainty and gender are analyzed. Hence, given the integral role of risk perception in the construction of an individual’s cognitive representation of the decision environment, it should be considered when analyzing the effects of exogenous variables (framing, certainty and gender on decision-making (Sitkin & Weingart, 1995). Research, (Sjoberg, 2000) has documented that perceived risk of terrorism was positively related to adaptive behaviors such as having an emergency supply. This research provides a better understanding of how risk perception influences decision making despite how the security information was presented; it provides insight into how risk perception impacts various security related attitudes.

Individuals can exaggerate or down play their perception of risks. Psychologists have studied risk perception and noted that people tend to exaggerate risk probabilities when the possible outcome involves loss of life of loved ones, and tend to down play it when unknown persons are involved (Bouyer, 2001; Gregory & Mendelsohn, 1993; Johnson, 2004). Also, studies (Armas, 2006; Rogers, 1997) have shown that people overestimate spectacular but rare risks such as plane crash or road accidents, risks that are being talked about and remain object of public scrutiny (terrorism, armed robbery attack, or kidnapping), while they underestimate risks they chose willingly to take such as business and investment opportunities. The authors concluded that people are more afraid of risks they are aware of than those they are not aware of.

Research have found a general effect known as mood congruent judgment whereby individuals with past incidences of security problems tend to perceive and report every security issues as devastating and catastrophic (Wegener & Petty, 1996}, whereas those with little or no past incidences of insecurity assign little or no importance to threats of insecurity despite the magnitude of such incident. Risk perception has the capacity to alter decision making as well as the relationship between framing certainty and gender and security strategy decision, in that, it is expected that an individual’s level of risk feeling and reactions, will to a great extent determine whether he/she will or will not approve of any security equipment irrespective of the information he/she is exposed to, or how confident he/she is that the equipment will function as planned. Taken together, it is suggested that risk perception will significantly moderate the relationships between framing, certainty, gender and security strategy decision. In line with this, high risk perceptions are expected to increase the likelihood that an individual will approve the procurement of equipment that will aid the fight against insecurity, whereas, low risk perception will attenuate the likelihood that an individual will prioritize security measures.

 

Statement of the Problem

At all times, people are considered safe/secured or unsafe/unsecured (Daniels, 1999). However, the terms secured and unsecured are far ends of a continuum and represent a psychological and physical reactions and feelings of relaxation or apprehension. People feel relaxed and could perform at their peak, when they perceive their environment as secured and safe, whereas, the feeling of apprehension and anxiety arises from the perception of insecurity (Bateman & Zeithaml, 1989), and could have varying implications on work productivity, cognitive functioning and social relationships in the work place. It appears that people who have high perception of security tend to have greater work output and better cognitive functioning when compared with those who perceive their environment as unsafe/unsecure (Muchinsky, 2001).

Most of the studies on framing and certainty effect on decision making have focused on healthcare practices, finance and investments, product marketing and sales, property investment, voting behavior, exercise and social group affiliation. Only a few studies have tried to investigate framing, certainty or gender effects in the area of social security of life and properties, probably because of the nature of the area or the difficulty in getting security personnel/experts to participate in such studies. Mintz et al (2006) called for studies on the effect of framing and certainty in the domain of security and perception of insecurity by citizens following the advent of terrorism/insurgency across the globe.

Literature, tend to show dearth of studies on framing effect in Nigeria and especially in the area of security of life and property. It could be argued that the structure of the security system in Nigeria seem not to permit academic/empirical researches on key security issues and decisions and in most cases, women are hardly appointed into vital security posts in the country. Positions like the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Defense Staff, National Security Adviser, Chief of Air Staff, and the Inspector General of Police have not been held by a female in Nigeria despite the large number of females in these forces, and these points to perceived gender differences on risk perception and security decision making. Again, individuals who stay in the same locality and experience virtually the same incidences have reported individual differences in risk perception and the motivating influences remain unclear. Based on these problems, the current study is designed to provide empirical answers to the following research problems:

  1. Would people differ on how they make security decisions based on how the security choices were presented?
  2. Would people who are certain about the outcome of their decision differ from those who are not on security matters.
  3. Would there be gender differences on security strategy decision?
  4. Would risk perception significantly moderate the effects of framing, certainty or gender on security decisions?

Purpose of the Study

The reasons for the current study include to:

  • Determine the effect of framing on security strategy decision.
  • Determine whether certainty will influence security strategy decision.
  • Determine the effect of gender on security strategy decision.
  • Determine if risk perception would moderate the effects of framing, certainty and gender on security strategy decision.

Operational Definition of Terms

For clarity of measurement, the variables in the current study are operationally defined as follows;

Framing is operationally defined as the percentage of chances that the National Assembly (NASS) would approve funds for the procurement of weapon-tracking equipments. Framing has two levels. 1) Positive framing- there is 90% chance that NASS would approve funds for the equipments, and 2) Negative framing-there is 10% chance that NASS would not approve funds for the equipments.

Certainty is defined as the level of confidence that the equipments will effectively detect weapons and ammunition. It has two levels. 1) Certainty- high level of confidence that the equipments will effectively detect the weapons, and 2) Uncertainty- low level of confidence that the equipments will effectively detect weapons.

Gender is defined as male and female human participants.

Security Strategy Decision: This is defined as the approval of the use of border monitors and environmental detectors in checkmating arms movement in Nigeria as measured by the Security Strategy Decision Inventory (SSDI).

Risk perception: This is defined as an individual’s ranking of situations as risky or dangerous. This is as measured by the risk perception subscale of the Blais and Webber (2006) Domain-Specific Risk-Taking (DOSPERT-RP) Scale for adult population.

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