After exposure to statistical information and/or samplings of exemplifying cases in a news report on health risks, quantitative impressions and associated affective dispositions were examined in persons differing in arithmetic competence. Whereas the variation of such competence was without appreciable effect on incidence estimates, it markedly influenced affect-mediated assessments of empathy with victims, safety risks, and protective concerns. Specifically, exposure to sets of pertinent exemplars fostered higher assessments by persons of lower numeric ability than by persons of higher numeric ability. In addition, all presentations involving exemplars fostered stronger affective assessments than did the presentation of statistical data alone. The findings suggest that variation in numeric competence is associated with distinct differences in information processing that serves the formation of affect-mediated risk-related assessments. Implications for cognitive processing styles are considered and applied to the design of informative and persuasive media campaigns.