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Organ Donation Decisions: Deviating From The Status Quo Makes People Feel Vulnerable
Research suggests that the method used to determine voluntary consent (opt-in versus opt-out) greatly affects the number of registered organ donors in various countries. However, the reasons for this effect are not clear. We show that deviating from the status-quo increases individuals' sense of vulnerability, possibly preventing these actions. In Study 1, deviating from the status-quo, by becoming a registered organ donor heightened perceptions of a protagonist’s vulnerability in the US (opt-in)—but in the UK (opt-out), this occurs when the protagonist removed themselves from the organ donors list. In Study 2, imagining deviating from the status-quo increased participants’ own perceived vulnerability under both opt-in and opt-out manipulated policies. In Study 3, registered donors in the US (not UK) perceived their own vulnerability as greater after (versus before) being reminded of their registration decision. However, vulnerability perceptions were not affected by such a reminder for non-donors who upheld the status-quo.