The role of anxiety in seeking and retaining risk information: Testing the risk perception attitude framework in two studies

Monique Mitchell Turner, Rajiv N. Rimal, Daniel Morrison, Hyojin Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Despite the importance of health information seeking, not all people engage in such behaviors, especially when thinking about the disease is distressing. The focus of this paper is to examine the antecedents of information seeking and retention. Based on individuals' risk perception and efficacy beliefs, the risk perception attitude framework is used to formulate four groups: responsive (high risk, high efficacy), avoidance (high risk, low efficacy), proactive (low risk, high efficacy), and indifference (low risk, low efficacy). In Study 1, a 2 (risk) × 2 (efficacy) between-subjects experiment, participants' perceived risk to skin cancer and skin cancer-related efficacy beliefs were induced to determine their information seeking, retention, and intentions to engage in future seeking. The responsive group, as predicted, was associated with the most information-seeking behaviors and information-seeking intentions. The avoidance group, however, sought information but exhibited the lowest retention scores. These results were used to derive two predictions - the incredulity hypothesis and the anxiety-reduction hypothesis - that were then tested in Study 2. Study 2, also a 2 (risk) × 2 (efficacy) between-subjects experiment dealing with diabetes, found support for the anxiety-reduction hypothesis, which argues that the high-risk, low-efficacy group experiences more anxiety, which leads to high motivations to seek, but lower ability to retain information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-156
Number of pages27
JournalHuman Communication Research
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language

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