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The Societal Risk Reduction Motivation Model

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Abstract

Risk prevention often requires changes in not only individual behaviors but also societal conditions. Sparse risk communication theory and research, however, has paid attention to motivations for changing the societal, political and economic contexts of risk. The goal of this chapter is to describe an initial version of the societal risk reduction motivation model (SRRM) that explains the pathways from media exposure to societal risk perception to societal risk reduction action. SRRM builds on the theory and research on media effects, social processes, and collective behavior.
117
Introduction
Preventing and controlling risk frequently
requires changes in not only individual behaviors
but also societal conditions. Extant risk commu-
nication theory and research, however, have
focused on motivations for individual behavior
change; substantially less risk communication
theory and research have paid attention to moti-
vations for changing the societal, political, and
economic conditions and the contexts and cir-
cumstances of risk.
While a main predictor of individual behavior
change is personal risk perception, the judgment
that one is facing a threat (e.g., Rimal & Real,
2003; Rogers, 1975; Witte, 1992), a main predic-
tor of societal condition change may be societal
risk perception, the judgment that society at large
is facing a danger. While it has been documented
that the media are a primary source of societal
risk perception, little theory and research have
investigated how the media-influenced societal
risk perception can be channeled for changes in
the societal conditions and contexts of risk. Risk
perception and risk reduction action at the soci-
etal level may comprise another route to risk
prevention and control, complementing the path
from personal risk perception to personal risk
reduction action that has frequently been studied
in the extant literature.
Thus, the goal of this chapter is to introduce
an initial, rudimentary version of the societal risk
reduction motivation model (SRRM) that
describes the pathways from societal risk percep-
tion to societal risk reduction actions (see Figure
8.1). Building on the theory and research on
media effects, social processes, and collective
behavior, the SRRM posits the mediators and
moderators of the path from societal risk percep-
tion to societal risk reduction action.
This chapter begins by distinguishing societal
risk perception from personal risk perception
and by delineating the role of the media in influ-
encing these perceptions. Next, the parameters
and functions of societal risk perception and
societal risk reduction action are discussed. On
this foundation, the relationships between vari-
ables of the model are explained. This chapter
concludes by summarizing key contribution of
the model, suggesting areas of application of the
model, and outlining directions for further
model development.
CHAPTER 8
The Societal Risk Reduction
Motivation Model
Hyunyi Cho and Kai Kuang
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118—— SECTION 3 Models of Risk Communication
Media and Risk Perceptions at
Societal and Personal Levels
The sociality of risk perception has been recog-
nized by various intellectual traditions in social
sciences. From the symbolic interaction perspec-
tive, Blumer (1971) characterized social prob-
lems as collective definitions, not as objective
social existences. The social representation the-
ory (Moscovici, 1984) posits a similar perspec-
tive in which reality is constructed through
communication, interaction, and shared mem-
ory. The social amplification of risk framework
(Kasperson et al., 1988) proposes that risk per-
ception may rise or fall through psychological,
social, organizational, and cultural processes.
A key conduit of the social processes postu-
lated in these perspectives may be mass media.
Among different modalities of communication,
the media are distinguished for their capacity to
create a broad reach and pervasive exposure
(Gunther, 1998). Consequently, the media may be
able to shape shared and collective perceptions
about risk, about what is risky, and about how
risky it is, in society.
That media shape judgments about the social
world is postulated in the media effects theories
of cultivation theory, agenda-setting theory, and
the impersonal impact hypothesis. Importantly, a
commonality among these models is that they
posit the main outcome of media effects as soci-
etal-level judgments rather than as personal-level
judgments.
Cultivation theory (Gerbner & Gross, 1976)
predicts that repeated exposure to the media
generates beliefs about society consistent with
the media content. Gerbner and Gross (1976), for
example, found that repeated exposure to vio-
lence on television induced the belief that vio-
lence is frequent in society, which is a societal-level
risk perception. On the other hand, research did
not find a significant direct association between
exposure to media violence and fear of becoming
a victim of crime, which is a personal-level risk
judgment; instead, cultivation effect was found
only among survey respondents who resided in
Figure 8.1 The Societal Risk Reduction Motivation Model
External
variables
Demographics
Individual
differences
Prior
experience
Media
exposure
Societal risk
perception
Cognitive
involvement
Emotional
involvement
Adaptive
actions
Maladaptive
actions
Action
efficacy
Institutional
efficacy
Collective
efficacy
Self-efficacy
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Chapter 8 The Societal Risk Reduction Motivation Model—— 119
high-crime areas or have personally experienced
a crime before (Doob & McDonald, 1979; Shrum
& Bischak, 2001).
Other studies on cultivation theory illustrate
the distinctiveness of societal risk perception and
personal risk perception and their sources. For
example, on one hand, news exposure predicted
societal importance of the issue of crime but not
personal fear of becoming a victim of crime; on
the other hand, while personal experience of
crime predicted fear, it did not predict perceived
societal importance of crime (Gross & Aday,
2003). Television viewing predicted fear of crime
in distant urban settings but not in one’s own
neighborhood (Heath & Petraitis, 1987).
Similar to cultivation theory, agenda-setting
theory predicts media effects on societal-level
judgments. According to agenda-setting theory
(McCombs & Shaw, 1972), people learn about
important social issues through mass media.
Specifically, it is through the media that people
learn what issues are important in society and
how important they are. For example, after expo-
sure to news media focusing on pollution,
national defense, and fiscal inflation, people
assigned a greater importance to these social
issues than other issues that were not focused on
in the news (Iyengar & Kinder, 1987).
Impersonal Impact Hypothesis
The impersonal impact hypothesis (Tyler &
Cook, 1984) extends these media effects theories
by distinguishing media effects on societal and
personal levels of judgments and by positing
media effects on risk judgments specifically.
1
The
hypothesis predicts that societal and personal
risk perceptions are distinct and that the media
influence societal risk perception but not per-
sonal risk perception. Societal risk perception
refers to the beliefs about the importance of a risk
issue to the society at large; personal risk percep-
tion refers to the beliefs about an individual’s
likelihood of experiencing harm (Tyler & Cook,
1984). The postulation of differential effects of
the media on personal and societal levels is con-
sistent with evidence observed for the agenda-
setting and cultivation effects of the media on
societal-level perception (e.g., issue importance
in society, event frequency in society) but not on
personal-level perception (e.g., fear of becoming
a victim of crime).
Support for the impersonal impact hypothesis
has been obtained. For example, Coleman (1993)
found that among New York state residents,
exposure to the media, including newspapers
and magazines, predicted the belief that issues
such as HIV/AIDS, heart disease, water contami-
nation, and radon would be a serious problem of
the country. The same exposure, however, did
not predict the residents’ beliefs about personally
being affected by these problems. Similarly,
Morton and Duck (2001) found that among
Australian college students, media exposure was
associated primarily with the judgments about
other Australians’ risk of skin cancer but not with
personal worry about and vulnerability to skin
cancer.
While research has found that the effects of
mass media on personal risk perception are lim-
ited, theories of behavior change predict that
personal risk perception determines individuals
motivations to perform behavior to reduce the
risk (e.g., Rogers, 1975; Rosenstock, 1974; Witte,
1992). Consequently, investigations have focused
on identifying the conditions under which the
media can influence personal risk perception.
Generally, this stream of research has identified
the kind of content and channels of the media
and their interactions with the audience that
influence personal risk perception.
For example, Brown and Basil (1995) found
that identification with a media celebrity can
overcome the impersonal nature of media effects
on risk perception. Specifically, after hearing
about the basketball player Magic Johnsons HIV
infection, college males who identified with
Johnson increased their perceived personal vul-
nerability to HIV. Snyder and Rouse (1995)
found that when mass media were differentiated
to informational and entertainment media,
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120—— SECTION 3 Models of Risk Communication
exposure to entertainment media predicted per-
sonal risk perception about HIV. A study extend-
ing Snyder and Rouse (1995) found that
genre-specific exposure to the media differen-
tially predicted South Korean college students
smoking-related risk perceptions at the personal
and societal levels (So, Cho, & Lee, 2011).
Together, these studies inform how the media
can be utilized to influence personal risk percep-
tion. Meta-analyses have reported that personal
risk perception influences individuals’ attitudes
and actions to reduce personal risk (e.g., Floyd,
Prentice-Dunn, & Rogers, 2000; Witte &
Allen, 2000).
Beyond Personal: Two Routes
to Risk Reduction
In contrast to the wealth of research accumu-
lated for personal risk perception, there is a pau-
city of research that has investigated societal risk
perception and its effects. In preventing and
controlling risk, changing societal conditions is
important in addition to changing individual
behaviors because risk may be caused by societal
conditions as well as individual behaviors (see
Cohen et al., 2000; Sampson, Raudenbush, &
Earls, 1997). Furthermore, individual behavior
change can be contingent on societal conditions
that facilitate or hinder it (e.g., Fishbein &
Yzer, 2003).
Distinct judgments of personal risk and soci-
etal risk may predict distinct yet complementary
routes to risk reduction, comprising personal
risk reduction and societal risk reduction action
routes. While personal risk perception motivates
individual behavior change, societal risk may
stimulate societal processes and practices that
can generate changes in political, economic, and
social conditions surrounding risk. Changes in
societal conditions triggered by societal risk per-
ception may facilitate changes in individual
behavior as well.
In the existing risk communication literature,
however, societal risk perception has been viewed
as an end outcome of media exposure and of
limited utility in motivating personal risk reduc-
tion behavior. Since Tyler and Cook (1984),
sparse theory and research have been advanced
for the construct of societal risk perception and
its role in risk prevention and control. The SRRM
attempts to address this void in the current litera-
ture by describing the pathways from societal
risk perception to societal risk reduction action.
This effort first requires laying the conceptual
grounds of societal risk perception and societal
risk reduction action, the two essential building
blocks of the model.
Societal Risk Perception and
Societal Risk Reduction Action
Societal Risk Perception
At the societal level, the etiology of risk and
approaches to addressing the risk are likely to be
outside the control of any one individual. Instead,
societal risks are likely to be a product of the
conflicts, negotiations, decisions, and actions of
individuals, groups, and institutions and interac-
tions between and among them. The causes and
control of pollution and contamination of the
environment, for example, may involve individu-
als, groups, and institutions of society operating
in multiple sectors. Concurrently, there may be
shared consequences of not addressing the risk,
as well as shared benefits of addressing the risk,
at the societal level.
More than 40 years ago, Hardin (1968) pre-
dicted the “tragedy of the commons” in which all
shared resources, such as air, water, soil, and cli-
mate, are exploited and degraded. These
resources comprise public goods, which are
properties in the commons, and the outcomes of
using them are shared (Marwell & Oliver, 1993;
Olson, 1965). Reducing risk in public goods,
such as the environment, requires society’s col-
lective action (Marwell & Oliver, 1993; Olson,
1965), and a motivator of societal actions may be
societal risk perception.
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Chapter 8 The Societal Risk Reduction Motivation Model—— 121
Drawing on Tyler and Cook (1984), societal-
level risk perception is defined as judgments
about the larger society or collective and about
the condition of its members. As an outcome of
media exposure, societal risk perception may
represent a subtle yet powerful effect of the
media (see Katz, 1983, for discussion on this
nature of media effects). This effect may stem
from the nature of media content and messages,
prominent among which are the situations of
larger collectives (Mutz, 1998). By presenting
phenomena in the larger society, the media influ-
ence perceptions about collective conditions,
which in turn influence political attitudes
(Mutz, 1998).
The effect of societal risk perception may be
subtle because it may not have an immediate or
direct effect on personal risk reduction behavior;
yet it may be powerful because it may influence
motivations to change the political, economic,
and sociocultural conditions surrounding risk.
For example, societal risk perception about the
possible or actual “tragedy of the commons
(Hardin, 1968) may spur social processes leading
to the establishment of rules and regulations,
codification of acceptable conduct, construction
of norms, and willingness to comply to the rules,
codes, and norms against degradation of the
commons or public goods (see Feeny, Berkes,
McCay, & Acheson, 1990).
Of note, the distinction between societal and
personal risk may not parallel the commonly
made differentiation between environmental risk
(societal) and health risk (personal) and their
respective treatments. Reducing risk in individu-
als’ health, such as heart disease, requires not
only personal behavior changes, such as diet,
physical activity, and smoking cessation, but also
societal actions to change the conditions sur-
rounding the risk, such as labeling of cholesterol
content in food packages, providing easy access
to physical activity facilities, indoor smoking
bans, and so on, which require policy changes. As
such, addressing individual health risk can be
facilitated by societal-level actions. Consider also
the case of HIV. Although condom use is the
direct and immediate action that individuals can
take to prevent HIV risk, individuals’ and soci-
ety’s risk of HIV may be more efficiently reduced
through societal actions rather than individual
actions alone. Condom use is advocated because
of the unavailability of an HIV vaccine; and
research, development, and dissemination of an
HIV vaccine require a policy commitment that is
predicated on support by public opinion, which,
in turn, is likely to correlate with societal risk
perception about HIV.
Societal Risk Reduction Action
Societal risk reduction action concerns the
conditions and contexts surrounding risk.
Attitudes and actions to reduce societal risk
include willingness to support changes in poli-
cies regarding risk, to sign a petition, to join and
engage in interest groups, to voice opposition or
support for social changes over various avenues,
and to vote. SRRM may also activate willingness
to donate time, money, and other resources that
can be utilized in efforts to facilitate changes and
to lower barriers to changes in social, political,
and economic environments. Overall, these atti-
tudes and actions seek to directly address the
societal contexts of risk rather than to directly
address the individual behaviors associated
with risk.
Of note, societal risk reduction action is dis-
similar to collective action in that the former may
subsume the latter. Collective action is frequently
defined on the basis of in- and out-group distinc-
tions. For example, collective action “involves
behaviors on behalf of the ingroup that are
directed at improving the conditions of the entire
group” (Becker & Wright, 2011, p. 63; see also
Wright, Taylor, & Moghaddam, 1990). The goal
of collective action is to benefit an in-group that
is typically disadvantaged relative to out-groups
(Gamson, 1992; Wright et al., 1990). A theoreti-
cal foundation of this line of research is inter-
group relationships (Gamson, 1992; Tajfel &
Turner, 1979).
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122—— SECTION 3 Models of Risk Communication
In comparison, the theoretical foundation of
societal risk perception is mass media effects. A
unique capacity of the media is their diffusive
effects over a wide spectrum of society (Gunther,
1998; Lazarsfeld & Merton, 1949; Mutz, 1998). In
contrast, intergroup relationships utilize inter-
personal and group communication, which are
relatively narrower in scope. Overall, societal
actions may subsume collective actions that are
based on group distinctions in that groups are
important units of the larger society and may
have upstream influences on society.
Furthermore, societal risk reduction actions
may include those that do not directly benefit
the actor. Societal risk reduction actions can
include out-group’s actions to benefit members
of in-groups and other groups. For example,
those who participate in actions to remove dis-
crimination against minority groups may not be
only the members of the groups that are dis-
criminated; rather, they will include those who
value social justice, fairness, and equality and
those who expect shared benefit of ensuring
these values in society. Connecting people of in-
and out-groups through sympathy, empathy, and
higher level identities, values, and goals, societal
risk reduction actions may hover over the
boundaries of in- and out-groups and unite dis-
parate groups.
From Societal Risk Perception to
Societal Risk Reduction Action
In previous research, societal risk perception
showed sparse effects on individual behaviors
that directly reduce risk. For example, a survey
of residents of Alberta, Canada, found only a
very small correlation between concern for the
environment and recycling behavior (Derksen
& Gartrell, 1993). This may be because the pri-
mary locus in which the effects of societal risk
perception occur is societal rather than per-
sonal. May the concern better predict support
for the increase and wider availability of struc-
tured recycling programs, which in turn predict
recycling behavior? In a survey of Connecticut
residents, perceived societal significance of the
issue of AIDS was not associated with inten-
tions to use condoms to prevent personal AIDS
risk (Snyder & Rouse, 1995). May the perceived
societal risk of AIDS, however, predict willing-
ness to take societal risk reduction actions, such
as donating money and time for AIDS preven-
tion, and to support governmental policies for
AIDS research? These questions are based on
the postulation that the principal domain of
societal risk perceptions impact is societal,
including societal risk reduction actions that
seek to alter the contexts of risk occurrence or
risk behavior.
Research on civic and political participation
provides evidence supportive of these postula-
tions. For example, those who were more con-
cerned about the federal budget deficit issue in
1988 were more likely to engage in various
actions to influence the approaches to addressing
the issue, including attendance to public meet-
ings, signing petitions, writing letters, and inten-
tions to vote in the upcoming presidential
election (Weaver, 1991). Those who were more
concerned about the issues of the state, including
crime, drugs, and environment, were more likely
to have voted in the 1990 gubernatorial election
in Texas (Roberts, 1992). Concern about U.S.
involvement in Iraq influenced youths first vot-
ing behavior in the 2004 presidential election
(Kiousis & McDevitt, 2008). Across these studies,
the actions taken by individuals may not directly
address the concern. Rather, these actions may
indirectly address the concern by directly influ-
encing the decisions relevant to the concern and
the makers of the decisions.
Furthermore, motivations to act on societal
risk may be mediated and moderated. The path
between societal risk perception and societal risk
reduction action may be mediated by cognitive
involvement and emotional involvement. Societal
risk perception may prime cognitions and emo-
tions that emanate from the societal issue’s rele-
vance to self, which then activate willingness to
engage in action to reduce the societal risk. The
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Chapter 8 The Societal Risk Reduction Motivation Model—— 123
path from cognitive and emotional involvement
to societal risk reduction actions may be moder-
ated by efficacy beliefs, which include action
efficacy, institutional efficacy, collective efficacy,
and self-efficacy. While cognitive and emotional
involvement motivates action consistent with the
cognition and/or emotion primed, the kind of
action to be actualized may be determined by
efficacy beliefs. High involvement and high effi-
cacy beliefs may result in the intended actions;
high involvement accompanied by low efficacy
beliefs actualization may result in inaction or
maladaptive reactions, such as fatalistic attitudes
or nonnormative actions. Figure 8.1 depicts these
posited relationships.
Mediators
Cognitive Involvement
Broadly, cognitive involvement refers to the
issue’s perceived personal relevance. It is “a moti-
vational state induced by an association between
an activated attitude and the self-concept”
(Johnson & Eagly, 1989, p. 290). Because society
comprises individuals who share the common
and public goods, societal risk may have ramifi-
cations for individuals. For example, societal risk
perception about gun violence may motivate
individuals to think about the societal risk issue’s
implications for their personal lives.
Because cognitive involvement elevates the
perceived personal relevance of a societal risk
issue, increased cognitive involvement may in
turn create a greater motivation to engage in
actions to reduce the societal risk. For example,
in a French study, people with high cognitive
involvement in earthquakes were more likely to
exhibit a thought structure for earthquakes that
was more practical and more action oriented
than people with low cognitive involvement in
earthquakes (Gruev-Vintila & Rouquette, 2007).
Cognitive involvement in a societal risk issue
may stem from its relevance to a person’s value,
outcome, or impression. Research found that
cognitive involvement activated by these different
kinds of relevance are distinct and are differen-
tially associated with attitudes and actions (Cho &
Boster, 2005; Johnson & Eagly, 1989). Values are
“mode of conduct and end-state of existence”
(Rokeach, 1968, p. 160), while outcomes have
consequences for goals and gains. Impression is
important to managing one’s social life. Thus,
depending on the kind of societal risk issue and
its personal relevance, different kinds and magni-
tudes of cognitive involvement may be activated.
For example, whereas the more other-focused
issues such as organ and tissue donation were
associated with value-relevant involvement, the
more self-focused issues such as sunscreen use
and nutrition were more strongly associated
with outcome-relevant involvement (Marshall,
Reinhart, Feeley, Tutzauer, & Anker, 2008). People
with high other-directedness were more con-
cerned about issues’ implications for their social
life management (Cho & Boster, 2005).
The kinds and magnitudes of cognitive
involvement primed may also influence the
direction and strength of attitudes and actions.
Research, for example, found that centrality of
the issue to ones values predicted extreme atti-
tudes, while the centrality of the issue to ones
outcomes predicted greater willingness to seek
information (e.g., Cho & Boster, 2005). In a study
about Belgian public’s opinions about biofuels,
the segment of the public with high outcome-
relevant involvement with the issue was more
likely to express that greater information about
biofuels should be available as compared with the
segments with high value-relevant involvement
or high impression-relevant involvement
(Van de Velde, Vandermeulen, Huylenbroeck, &
Verbeke, 2011).
Emotional Involvement
In addition to the cognitive involvement in
the issue primed through value, outcome, and
impression relevance, emotional involvement
may also mediate the relationship between
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124—— SECTION 3 Models of Risk Communication
societal risk perception and societal risk reduc-
tion action. Emotional involvement may come in
the form of sympathy or empathy for social
groups directly affected by the risk issue, as well
as specific discrete emotions evoked for the risk
issue itself.
Societal risk perception induced by media
exposure may elicit sympathy or empathy for
those who are immediately affected. Sympathy
and empathy refer to emotional responses arising
from the understanding of the emotional states
of others. As such, both are other-focused emo-
tional conditions. There are also differences
between the two. While sympathy comprises
emotional responses that may not be identical
with those that others experience, empathy com-
prises those that others feel; consequently, while
sympathy may frequently take the form of con-
cern or sorrows, empathy may take a wider range
of emotions (Wispe, 1986). Sympathy and empa-
thy for others who are affected by a risk issue may
bolster the willingness to address the risk issue.
Eisenberg and Miller (1987), for example, found
that empathy promotes prosocial and socially
cooperative behavior.
Generally, current research suggests that neg-
ative rather than positive emotions may be a
stronger mediator of the path from societal risk
perception to societal risk reduction action.
Negative emotions have been found to increase
action tendencies to address risk, as detailed
below. In contrast, positive emotions were found
to decrease action tendencies. For example,
exposure to hostile sexism provoked negative
emotions, which increased intentions to distrib-
ute flyers and to sign petitions for gender equal-
ity, but exposure to benevolent sexism evoked
positive emotions, which decreased intentions to
perform the same behaviors (Becker & Wright,
2011). While the experience of participation in
societal risk reduction actions elicited positive
emotions about self, this self-directed positive
emotion was a weaker predictor of intentions to
participate in future actions than other-directed
negative emotions such as anger or fear (Becker,
Tausch, & Wagner, 2011).
Although earlier research relied on the dual-
emotion perspective of distinguishing positive and
negative emotions, more recent research utilizes
the discrete emotions perspective (Frijda, 1986;
Lazarus, 1991; for reviews, see also Chapter 3,
this volume). Briefly, the discrete emotions
perspective posits that emotions vary in dimen-
sions, including certainty, attention, effort, and
responsibility (for a review, see Lerner &
Keltner, 2000).
Depending on the specific negative emotions
that it evokes, societal risk perception may indi-
rectly activate differential attitudes and course of
actions to reduce societal risk. While fear caused
by societal risk perception may motivate actions
to avoid the cause of the emotion, anger caused
by societal risk perception may motivate actions
to approach it (Lerner & Keltner, 2000). After
9/11, Americans who had stronger feelings of
anger rather than fear were more likely to
endorse punitive policy measures, whereas those
who had stronger feelings of fear rather than
anger were more likely to support conciliatory
policy measures to reduce future terrorism
against America (Lerner, Gonzalez, Small, &
Fischhoff, 2003).
Guilt and shame may be elicited when societal
risk perception produces negative evaluation of
self. Guilt is the recognition that one has breached
an accepted personal or social principle, while
shame concerns failing to meet implicit, as well
as explicit, social expectations (Goffman, 1956).
Conceptually closer to the public domain of life
than guilt, shame promotes social cohesion and
consensus, while it can also serve as a means to
social control (Cho, 2000).
The experience of guilt and shame may gener-
ate motivations to avoid these aversive feelings in
future situations (Tangney, Miller, Flicker, &
Barlow, 1996). Consequently, the direction of
future actions to avoid guilt and shame is likely to
be in alignment with perceived norms and expec-
tations in society. For example, guilt has been
found to be an important mediator of the asso-
ciation between concern over the environment
and intentions to recycle (e.g., Furguson &
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Chapter 8 The Societal Risk Reduction Motivation Model—— 125
Branscombe, 2010; Kaiser, Schultz, Berenguer,
Corral-Verdugo, & Tankha, 2008).
Moderators
Efficacy Beliefs
The influence of cognitive and affective
involvement on societal risk reduction action
may be amplified or attenuated by the levels of
efficacy beliefs. Overall, four types of efficacy
beliefs may be relevant to societal risk reduction
actions: action efficacy, institutional efficacy, col-
lective efficacy, and self-efficacy.
Action efficacy refers to the belief in the
actions effectiveness and efficiency in reducing
the societal risk under consideration (e.g., “How
much will my recycling behavior help in
preventing climate change?”). Action efficacy, as
a societal-level concept, may differ from response
efficacy (Rogers, 1975), which is a personal-level
concept. Whereas the appraisal of response effi-
cacy concerns the outcome of adopting a per-
sonal risk-reducing action, the appraisal of action
efficacy concerns the outcome of adopting a
societal risk-reducing action. Compared with the
former, the latter may require one to consider a
larger set of contingency factors. For example,
some societal actions may influence third parties’
reactions, while others may not; some may galva-
nize alliances, while others may prompt opposi-
tion movements (Hornsey et al., 2006). In
comparison, the outcomes of personal risk-
reducing actions (e.g., physical activity and
healthy diet) may be less influenced by others
reactions and actions.
Institutional efficacy refers to the citizenry’s
belief that large societal institutions are fair, just,
uncorrupt, trustworthy, and predictable
(Rothstein, 2003). Direct and immediate actions
to reduce societal risk are frequently not accessi-
ble to individual citizens. Rather, individuals
engage in actions to influence the institutional
decisions and decision makers. Consequently,
trust in institutions and institutional decision
makers who will act on the public’s expressed
attitudes may be a key contingent variable in the
public’s willingness to voice their attitudes. A
survey of citizens of 22 different countries found
that perceived institutional quality was a signifi-
cant predictor of the participation in actions for
reducing environmental risk (Duit, 2010). An
important predictor of environmental activism
was the belief in the competence of national and
international agencies, which was operational-
ized as their openness and responsiveness to citi-
zen voices and capabilities (Lubell, 2002; Lubell,
Zahran, & Vedlitz, 2007). This concept of institu-
tional efficacy may be related to social trust
(Siegrist, Cvetkovich, & Roth, 2000), which is
predicted by perceived similarity between the
values held by a member of the public and those
held by the institution under consideration.
Collective efficacy refers to individuals’ belief
that the larger group, organization, or community
that they belong to is capable of carrying out a
chosen course of action (Bandura, 1986). Societal
risk is rarely under one citizens’ control, and
reducing societal risk frequently requires con-
certed efforts of citizens. Consequently, collective
efficacy can moderate the effect of perceived soci-
etal risk on willingness to engage in actions to
reduce the societal risk. Indirect evidence of the
importance of collective efficacy for societal risk
control actions has been obtained as variables
akin to collective efficacy have been found to pre-
dict actions pertinent to reducing societal risk.
For example, the density of social ties tends to
predict willingness to engage in collective actions
(Marwell, Oliver, & Prahl, 1988). Expected reci-
procity, that is, the belief that other members of
the collective will return ones own efforts, was a
significant predictor of willingness to engage in
recycling behavior to reduce the risk of global
warming and climate change (Lubell et al., 2007).
Self-efficacy refers to individuals’ belief that
they themselves are capable of carrying out a cho-
sen course of action (Bandura, 1986). Actions to
reduce societal risk frequently require participa-
tion by a large number of individuals, and such
aggregated individual actions can then influence
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126—— SECTION 3 Models of Risk Communication
institutions and policymakers. While individuals
may first consider action efficacy and institu-
tional efficacy to choose a particular course of
action and then consider self-efficacy, self- efficacy
may be a more direct and immediate determinant
of whether individuals will actually engage in the
chosen course of action or not. That is, the
appraisal of action and institutional efficacy may
initially determine the decision whether to vote
or not for a policy measure. The actual occur-
rence of voting may then be determined by self-
efficacy in voting behavior (e.g., ability to take
time out of work to vote, ability to stand in line).
Belief in one’s own ability, thus, may be one of the
elements influencing the occurrence of societal
risk reduction action, along with action, institu-
tional, and collective efficacy beliefs.
The relative contribution of these efficacy
beliefs toward societal risk control action may be
contingent on the kind of risk reduction action
under consideration. For example, certain kinds
of societal risk reduction may require more col-
laboration with others (collective efficacy), while
others may require more effort of self (self-
efficacy). Yet other kinds of societal risk reduc-
tion actions are contingent on societal institutions’
openness to responding to expressed public
opinion (institutional efficacy).
Together, efficacy beliefs may amplify or
attenuate the influence of involvement on will-
ingness to engage in action. High efficacy cou-
pled with high involvement may produce actions
consistent with the cognition/emotion activated.
Low efficacy beliefs coupled with high societal
risk may result in inaction or maladaptive reac-
tions to societal risk such as fatalistic attitudes or
nonnormative actions. For example, Martin,
Brickman, and Murray (1984) found that avail-
ability of mobilization resource is an important
determinant of collective action against social
injustice. Deficiency in efficacy beliefs may
engender a range of maladaptive actions. These
reactions may range from fatalistic attitudes and
inaction (Cho & Salmon, 2006; Rippetoe &
Rogers, 1987) to nonnormatively prescribed
actions such as violence (Tausch et al., 2011).
Propositions
The discussion above leads to the following
propositions:
Proposition 1: Media exposure predicts soci-
etal risk perception.
Proposition 2: Societal risk perception predicts
willingness to engage in societal risk reduc-
tion action.
Proposition 3: The path between societal risk
perception and societal risk reduction action
is mediated by cognitive involvement and
emotional involvement.
Proposition 4: The path between cognitive and
affective involvement and societal risk reduc-
tion action is moderated by efficacy beliefs.
Proposition 5: High involvement and high
efficacy beliefs predict adaptive actions; high
involvement and low efficacy beliefs predict
maladaptive actions (e.g., fatalism, inaction,
and violence).
Proposition 6: Societal risk reduction actions
influence political, economic, and sociocul-
tural contexts of risk.
Proposition 7: Changes in political, economic,
and sociocultural contexts of risk influence
changes in individual behaviors.
Reflections for Theory
and Research
The SRRM builds on the unique capacity of the
media, which is their influence on societal-level
judgments. The SRRM, however, differs from
existing theory and research in the following
primary ways. Whereas in existing research,
societal risk perception has been the end point of
the effect of media exposure, the SRRM contends
that societal risk perception is the beginning
point of the causal process influencing societal
risk reduction action (see Figure 8.1). Next,
drawing from literatures on social processes and
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Chapter 8 The Societal Risk Reduction Motivation Model—— 127
collective behavior, the SRRM proposes the
mediating and moderating mechanisms underly-
ing the path between societal risk perception and
societal risk control action. Conceptualized this
way, societal risk perception is not an example of
the limited effect of the media any more. Instead,
the SRRM conceives societal risk perception as
an indicator of what Katz (1983) termed as subtle
yet powerful effect of the media. The effects of the
media may be subtle in that they often do not
directly or immediately affect personal-level
motivation. The primary outcome of the media,
according to the SRRM, may be societal-level
motivation, rather than personal-level motiva-
tion. This postulation draws from Mutz (1998):
With their coverage of circumstances of larger
collectives, the media may shape perceptions
about society and its conditions, which in turn
influence motivations to address the social
conditions.
First, the SRRM has implications on theory
and research of new media and social media. On
the one hand, the Internet, an increasingly influ-
ential source of information, has the potential to
influence societal risk perception and personal
risk perception in ways distinctive from the tele-
vision or the print media. Specifically, new media
and social media have their unique characteris-
tics, such as interactivity, user-generated content,
and easy accessibility. Research should examine
the effects of these features on risk perceptions at
the personal and societal levels. Might such char-
acteristics exert differential influence on societal
risk perception and personal risk perception?
Theory and research that address such questions
can expand understanding about the utility of
new media and social media on risk communica-
tion that targets risk perceptions at differential
levels.
Second, the SRRM provides opportunities for
theory and research at the intersection of risk
communication literature and social network
literature. Organizational and community social
network studies have examined the relational
aspects of individuals and network structures in
organizational settings. Recently, social network
approach has been applied to risk communica-
tion efforts (e.g., the social network contagion
theory of risk perception, Scherer & Cho, 2003),
yet it has not been widely researched. The SRRM
approach may be adopted in conjunction with
social network approach to examine the relation-
ship among social network, risk perception, and
risk reduction action at the community and soci-
etal levels, thus filling this void in the literature.
For example, how does social network structure
influence and/or potentially moderate media’s
effect on ones societal risk perceptions? Would
network characteristics mediate or moderate
societal risk perceptions impact on societal risk
reduction actions? Future studies that examine
such research questions may help explain how
and why risk perceptions and actions may vary in
different networks.
Third, delineating the mechanisms underly-
ing the path between societal risk perception and
societal risk reduction action, the SRRM encour-
ages holistic and systematic examinations of the
personal and societal routes to risk reduction.
Risk prevention and reduction may require both
individual behavior change and societal condi-
tion change. Therefore, it is necessary to distin-
guish the societal and the personal routes, to
identify the mechanisms underlying them, and
to understand how the two routes could comple-
ment each other. Therefore, the relationship
between the two routes requires further explica-
tion. Substantial individual behavior change may
lead to motivations for societal risk reduction
action, while societal conditions may facilitate or
hinder individual behavior change. Future
research that explores the potential interactions
between the two pathways may offer more com-
prehensive understandings on risk prevention
and reduction.
Furthermore, the propositions of the SRRM
may apply to various cultural settings, since the
SRRM encompasses constructs that address
potential variability across cultures. For example,
cultural attributes such as norms and values
about collective group and society may be rele-
vant to individuals’ cognitive involvement
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128—— SECTION 3 Models of Risk Communication
(e.g., value involvement and impression involve-
ment), which mediates societal risk perceptions
effect on societal risk reduction action.
Additionally, perceived collective efficacy and
institutional efficacy in different cultures may
vary depending on the cultural and political con-
texts of risk. Future research can test the SRRM
cross-culturally and identify the contextual fac-
tors that may influence the propositions of the
model.
Recommendations for Practice
That media shape societal risk perceptions,
rather than personal-level judgments, has practi-
cal implications for risk prevention and control.
Risk messages and campaigns that aim at influ-
encing societal risk perceptions should take
advantage of mass medias unique capacity. For
example, increased media exposure, including
both quantity and quality, may contribute to
stronger societal risk perceptions.
Another implication for those who communi-
cate risk is that increased societal risk percep-
tions may or may not necessarily lead to societal
risk reduction actions, as the effects are moder-
ated and mediated by cognitive and emotional
involvement as well as various efficacy beliefs.
Risk messages may need to cognitively and emo-
tionally engage recipients and address various
efficacy beliefs in order to motivate actions. Risk
communicators need to address these moderat-
ing and mediating constructs so that societal risk
perceptions can motivate actions.
Viewing the societal route to be distinct from
and complementary to the personal route, the
SRRM considers societal, political, and eco-
nomic conditions to be important for risk pre-
vention and control. The SRRM calls for
concerted risk communication efforts at both
the personal and societal levels. Finally, it should
be noted that societal risk reduction action is an
outcome of social processes at a certain time and
a location, just as societal risk perception is an
outcome of social construction. Consequently,
the objective validity of societal risk action may
remain elusive, just as societal risk perception
may be independent of objective conditions of
society.
Conclusions
Preventing and controlling risk requires actions
not only at the individual level but also at the
societal level. In contrast to the wealth of theory
and research on the mechanisms for motivating
actions to reduce personal risk, little theory and
research have explicated a framework describ-
ing the motivational mechanisms for societal
risk reduction actions. The SRRM presented in
this chapter is an attempt to address this void in
the existing literature. SRRM provides a frame-
work for understanding the motivational mech-
anisms for societal risk reduction actions.
Proposing the social and psychological mecha-
nisms through which media influence risk per-
ception and risk reduction action at the societal
level, the SRRM provides an innovative approach
to addressing the limitations of current theory
and research and provides guidance for har-
nessing the power of the media for addressing
collective risk through collective action. Future
research can refine the proposed model and
empirically test it in cross-cultural contexts;
examine the effects of message content, chan-
nel, and their interaction on societal risk per-
ceptions; apply the model to risk communication
via new media and social media platforms; and
explore social networks impact on societal risk
perception and actions.
Note
1. The indicators of societal risk perception that
Tyler and Cook (1984) used were the perceived impor-
tance of societal issues and the importance of govern-
mental actions to address the issues. Notice that the
first item in this index is akin to the measure of agenda
setting (McCombs & Shaw, 1972), and this measure
has been used in subsequent studies of impersonal
impact hypothesis (e.g., Coleman, 1993; Park, Scherer,
& Glynn, 2001; So et al., 2011).
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Chapter 8 The Societal Risk Reduction Motivation Model—— 129
Suggested Additional Readings
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perception, involvement types, and advocacy
behaviors. Journalism and Mass Communication
Quarterly, 88, 23–39.
McLeod, J., & Reeves, B. (1980). On the nature of mass
media effects. B. Whithey & R. Abeles (Eds.),
Television and social behavior: Beyond violence
and children . Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
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The SAGE Handbook of Risk Communication, edited by Hyunyi Cho, et al., SAGE Publications, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central,
http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ohiostate-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1995994.
Created from ohiostate-ebooks on 2020-12-22 14:30:30.
Copyright © 2014. SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.
The SAGE Handbook of Risk Communication, edited by Hyunyi Cho, et al., SAGE Publications, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central,
http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ohiostate-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1995994.
Created from ohiostate-ebooks on 2020-12-22 14:30:30.
Copyright © 2014. SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.
... Collective efficacy is an important component in theories such as the social identity model of pro-environmental action (Fritsche et al., 2018), the societal risk reduction motivation model (H. Cho & Kuang, 2015), the social identity model of collective action (van Zomeren et al., 2008), and the environmental identity model of environmental collective action (Carmona-Moya et al., 2021). In these models, collective efficacy is posited to act as a predictor of societal-level outcomes such as environmental action (Carmona-Moya et al., 2021;Fritsche et al., 2018), adaptive or maladaptive responses to risk (H. ...
... In these models, collective efficacy is posited to act as a predictor of societal-level outcomes such as environmental action (Carmona-Moya et al., 2021;Fritsche et al., 2018), adaptive or maladaptive responses to risk (H. Cho & Kuang, 2015), or collective action in general (van Zomeren et al., 2008) because people are aware that certain issues cannot be addressed solely by individual actions but instead require group cooperation. Although considered less often in media effects research than individual-level forms of efficacy, collective efficacy may be an increasingly important concept as interest grows in studying the impacts of media on efforts to address large-scale issues like social injustice or climate change. ...
... Some scholars (e.g. H. Cho & Kuang, 2015;Pham et al., 2014) ground their definitions of institutional efficacy in Rothstein's (2003) conception of trustworthy institutions as entities that 'do what they are supposed to do in a fair, impartial, uncorrupted and effective manner ' (pp. 65-66). ...
Article
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Efficacy constructs play central roles in health, political, computer-mediated, environmental, and mass communication research. In this review, we sought to organize and evaluate the efficacy concepts that have accumulated in media effects scholarship. First, we characterize how media effects researchers have studied efficacy constructs, both as perceptions and as message features. We discuss key conceptual and methodological issues for each efficacy construct. Second, we offer a conceptual matrix that puts prominent efficacy constructs in conversation with one another. We conclude with recommendations for media scholars studying efficacy. Ultimately, our review underscores the need for greater clarity and consistency in the study of efficacy as a predictor, outcome, mechanism, and moderator of media use and exposure.
... Although researchers have evaluated communication strategies for cancer prevention campaigns in community settings (e.g., Kreuter et al., 2012), research and health communication campaigns about preventing cancer have largely focused on individual-level preventive behaviors (e.g., Kim & Lwin, 2021). In addition to individual-level risk-preventing behaviors, collective actions, defined as actions by a large number of people to change the social conditions threatening their group as a whole, have long been regarded as another critical means to avert societal threats, including public health risks (Cho & Kuang, 2014;Tajfel, 1981;Wright et al., 1990). Indeed, certain collective actions -donating to cancer care institutions, supporting public policies to prevent cancer, and volunteering at nonprofit organizations -have been identified as critical to preventing cancer at the societal level (Center for Health Protection, 2019). ...
... To achieve those aims, we consulted the risk perception attitude (RPA) framework (Rimal & Real, 2003), a model widely employed to understand intention to perform preventive behaviors and to segment audiences for health communication campaigns. Although the RPA framework was initially proposed to explain how individual-level risk perception and efficacy beliefs predict intention to engage in individual-level preventive behaviors, its components -perceived risk and efficacy -have also been conceptualized as societal-level perceptions to predict individuals' intention to engage in collective actions as well (Cho & Kuang, 2014;Roberto et al., 2009). Guided by that conceptualization, we sought to extend the individual-level components of perception within the RPA framework to the societal level in order to clarify individuals' intention of engaging in collective actions against cancer. ...
... Perceived societal risk refers to the perception of how a phenomenon threatens a community and its residents (Roberto et al., 2009;Tyler & Cook, 1984). Perceived societal risk is theorized to stimulate societal processes and practices among the general public that can generate changes in political, economic, and societal conditions involving risk (Cho & Kuang, 2014). It is also highlighted as a predictor of individuals' intention to engage in collective actions to reduce or avert the foreseeable risk to their group or community, especially in response to environmental crises and public health threats (Roberto et al., 2009). ...
Article
To identify the psychosocial determinants of individuals’ intention to engage in collective actions against cancer, we extended and tested the risk perception attitude (RPA) framework at the level of social perceptions. The results of a large online survey of Hong Kong citizens (N = 1,005) revealed that perceived societal risk and perceived collective efficacy directly and jointly influenced respondents’ intention to engage in collective actions against cancer, namely donating to cancer charities, volunteering at cancer-prevention organizations, and supporting public policies for cancer prevention. However, the interaction between perceived societal risk and perceived collective efficacy occurred in a direction opposite to the direction in the initial RPA framework. As suggested by the framework, we also categorized individuals into four attitudinal groups based on their perceptions of societal-level risk as well as efficacy and compared their demographic and psychological characteristics. Among the findings, the four groups significantly differed in their perceptions of individual-level risk as well as efficacy, in their family cancer history, and in their intentions to engage in individual-level behaviors to prevent cancer. Altogether, our findings contribute to the literature by extending the RPA framework to individuals’ societal-level perceptions and by providing evidence that the framework can benefit the development of health communication campaigns to promote engagement in collective actions to support cancer prevention.
... Self-efficacy, for example, refers to the belief that one has the abilities to act to manage a potential threat (Bandura 1986). Beyond selfefficacy, coping with societal risk issues such as COVID-19 requires collective efficacy and institutional efficacy (Cho and Kuang 2015). Collective efficacy is the belief that groups, large and small, can work together to achieve an intended outcome (Bandura 1997). ...
... Rothstein 2003). In the face of high threat, perceptions of low collective efficacy or institutional efficacy may lead to maladaptive coping responses (Cho and Kuang 2015), which may include stigmatization of others. ...
... This conceptual framework explained a substantial portion of the variance across the dimensions, with the affective dimension explained more by the framework than the cognitive dimension of stigmatization. This explanatory framework was based on theory and research on coping (Lazarus and Folkman 1984;Alicke 2000;Cho and Kuang 2015), media effects (Shanahan and Morgan 1999), and racial beliefs (Lin et al. 2005;Zou and Cheryan 2017) and racial emotions (Cuddy, Fiske, and Glick 2007;Cohen-Charash 2009). ...
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Objective To investigate factors associated with the stigmatization of people of Asian descent during COVID-19 in the United States and factors that can mitigate or prevent stigmatization. Design A national sample survey of adults (N = 842) was conducted online between May 11 and May 19, 2020. Outcome variables were two dimensions of stigmatization, responsibility and persons as risk. Hierarchical regression analyses were performed. Results Racial prejudice, maladaptive coping, and biased media use each explained stigmatization. Racial prejudice, comprising stereotypical beliefs and emotion toward Asian Americans, was a stronger predictor of stigmatization than maladaptive coping or biased media use. Fear concerning the ongoing COVID-19 situation and the use of social media and partisan cable TV also predicted stigmatization. Low self-efficacy in dealing with COVID-19, when associated with high estimated harm of COVID-19, increased stigmatization. High perceived institutional efficacy in the handling of COVID-19 increased stigmatization when linked to high estimated harm of COVID-19. On the other hand, high perceived collective efficacy in coping with COVID-19 was associated with low stigmatization. More indirect contacts with Asians via the media predicted less stigmatization. Conclusions Efforts to reduce stigmatization should address racial stereotypes and emotions, maladaptive coping, and biased media use by providing education and resources to the public. Fostering collective efficacy and media-based contacts with Asian Americans can facilitate these efforts.
... Recent studies have highlighted the importance of group and institutional efficacy resources in response to threat, particularly in the context of societal risk, such as COVID-19 (Cho and Kuang, 2015;Cho et al., 2020). Of direct relevance here is Cho et al.'s (2020) paper that researched the stigmatisation of the Asian community in the US. ...
... Through this 'integrated immigrant' identity, we found that -in line with Cho and Kuang (2015), self-, group-and institutional efficacies were all drawn upon to manage threat response. Participants asserted efficacies that both aligned with the White British majority suggesting that cultural assimilation could lead to lifestyle changes, self-reliance (an assertion of self-efficacy) and faith in the NHS and UK government (an assertion of institutional efficacy), as well as group efficacy according to their constructed identity. ...
Article
Full-text available
The recognition and representation of BAME community as ‘high risk’ of Covid-19 in the UK presents both a health and an identity threat to this ethnic group. This study employed thematic analysis to explore response to these threats as related by a sample of 13 middle class members of the South Asian community. This work advances both health and identity psychological theory by recognising the affinity between expressions of health efficacy and identity. Our findings identify South Asian intragroup stigmatisation and commonalities that have implications for the promotion of health behaviour and health communications for minority groups.
... Several behavioral change theories, including the Health Belief Model (Rosenstock, 1966), the Protection Motivation Theory (Rogers, 1975), and the Extended Parallel Process Model (Witte, 1992) posit that risk perception is a crucial predictor of behavior. Theorists conceptualize risk perception into two types: personal risk perception and societal risk perception (Cho & Kuang, 2014;Coleman, 1993;Tyler & Cook, 1984). The first refers to the belief people have about themselves being susceptible to a health risk, while the second pertains to the belief that others are likely to be affected by the health risk. ...
... Paek et al. (2016) found that exposure to information related to the mad cow disease also leads to both types of risk perception. This is consistent with the risk perception literature, which posits that societal risk perception may be influential when individuals perceive a risk as having ramifications for themselves as well as community members (Cho & Kuang, 2014;Coleman, 1993). Risk perception, in turn, can influence health behavioral intentions. ...
Article
Full-text available
Preventing the COVID-19 outbreak primarily depends on individuals’ willingness to adopt social distancing and mask wearing behaviors. However, little is known about what drives individuals to adopt these behaviors. Guided by the Integrative Model of Behavioral Prediction, this study surveyed 590 adults in the US during the early stages of the outbreak to identify factors influencing intentions to practice social distancing and wear masks. Structural equation modeling results show that while attitudes are positively associated with intentions to perform both behaviors, perceived norms are positively associated with intentions to wear masks, and self-efficacy is positively associated with intentions to practice social distancing. Additionally, results indicate that adding personal risk perception and societal risk perception as distal variables increases the model’s predictive power. Results reveal that while social risk perception is positively associated with attitudes, perceived norms, and self-efficacy for both behaviors, personal risk perception is negatively associated with attitudes toward mask wearing, and perceived norms and self-efficacy for both behaviors. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
... Important progress has been made in this line of research (e.g. Mundt et al., 2018) and the present framework could be useful for mapping the social processes that drive collective action online and offline (see also Cho & Kuang, 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
Participatory interventions enable active user engagement, but research is needed to examine the longitudinal mechanisms through which engagement may generate outcomes. This study investigated the social processes following a web-based participatory media literacy intervention. In this program, young women were asked to create a digital counter message against the media content that promotes risk behavior. The effects of the message production were assessed at an immediate post-test and three- and six-month follow-ups. Message production increased collective efficacy at the immediate post-test, which then stimulated the sharing of self-generated messages and interpersonal conversation at the three-month follow-up. These sharing behaviors, in turn, led to critical media use and a negative attitude toward risk behavior at six months. Collective efficacy and sharing behavior sequentially mediated the effects of message production on outcomes. Theoretical and pragmatic implications are discussed.
... Specifically, prevalence estimates may lead to both individual-level and societal-level outcomes. Individual-level risk related outcomes might include perceived susceptibility to the disease, perceived individual causes of the disease, and lifestyle changes; societal-level outcomes might consist of perceived severity of the disease for society, perceived social causes, and support for policies to address public health problems (Cho & Kuang, 2014). Notably, outcomes at the individual-level and the societal-level are also closely connected. ...
Article
Obesity and diabetes are widespread health conditions with rising prevalence rates in the United States. News stories and health campaign messages frequently feature prevalence rates of obesity and diabetes, at times under the expectation that such messages will increase readers’ disease awareness, health behaviors, and policy support. At the same time, American adults overestimate the prevalence of obesity and diabetes in the absence of prevalence information, raising important questions about the implications of communicating accurate prevalence information that may be lower than baseline estimates. The current study examines the effects of communicating information about the prevalence of obesity and diabetes, varying the format of this information (using qualitative terms, raw frequencies, or percentages). Results from two pre-registered, web-based randomized experiments suggest that only prevalence statistics in percentage formats shift readers’ prevalence estimates, though in some percentage formats these estimates were lower than observed in a no-message control group. Prevalence estimates, in turn, were positively associated with perceived social causes of obesity/diabetes, intensions for healthy behaviors, and support for policy-level solutions. These findings offer guidance for health communication campaigns that seek to increase healthy behavior and support for policies to address health conditions.
Article
Full-text available
Previous research has revealed that environmental, social, and cultural factors affect people’s risk perception of COVID-19, especially the influence of media and trust, while the dynamics of how they affect it is still not clear. Through the analysis of online survey data, this article shows that there are two opposed paths of action. Trust in the government will enhance people’s confidence in controlling COVID-19. It then moderates and decreases the effects of people’s level and frequency of concernon the risk perception (both cognition and worries) of COVID-19, on the contrary, obtaining information from unofficial channels also moderates and increases the effects of the people’s level and frequency of concern on the second dimension (worries) of risk perception of COVID-19 rather than the first dimension (cognition). These conclusions have important policy implications for the control of the COVID-19 epidemic all over the world.
Article
Full-text available
As the South Korea population entered into an aging society in 2000, elderly welfare policies have become an important political agenda. To prepare for the aging society, the government not only needs to reform its retirement system but also needs to elicit voluntary support from the young population. The present study aimed to identify the key factors which may influence the effectiveness of communication in the context of communicating policies about elderly welfare. A survey of college students (N 362) revealed that the perceived benefits, institutional efficacy, and personal involvement with the issue played important roles in eliciting support from young people. A significant interaction was also observed between the perceived benefits and personal involvement. The implications were then discussed in conjunction with communication strategies for the formation of a favorable attitude towards elderly welfare policies in the younger population.
Chapter
It is strange, but true, that public opinion research, mass communications research and public opinion theory have become disconnected. It is difficult even to explain how any one of these can exist without the others, and yet the fact is that each has wandered off on its own. It is to the great credit of Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann that she has taken the lead in trying to bring them together again.1 Beginning with her call for a “return to a theory of powerful mass media”, Noelle-Neumann has been trying to show how the dynamics of media production and the dynamics of opinion formation interact, and how the process of this interaction can be described empirically by means of creative polling techniques.2 There may be room for debate over her inferences from the data, but nobody can underestimate the importance of her attempt to put the whole together.
Article
Trois etudes mettent a l'epreuve l'hypothese de l'impact impersonnel (limitation de l'influence des mass media sur les jugements lies au risque lorsqu'ils sont emis au niveau de la societe) aupres de plusieurs centaines de sujet devant repondre au niveau de la societe et au niveau personnel a un questionnaire portant sur les risques exposes dans une sequence televisee
Article
The question addressed is, when do disadvantaged-group members accept their situation, take individual action, or attempt to instigate collective action? Ss attempted to move from a low-status group into an advantaged, high-status group and were asked to respond to their subsequent rejection. Ss who believed that the high-status group was open to members of their group endorsed acceptance and individual actions. When access to the high-status group was restricted, even to the point of being almost closed (tokenism), Ss still preferred individual action. Disruptive forms of collective action were only favored by Ss who were told that the high-status group was completely closed to members of their group. Ss who believed they were near to gaining entry into the high-status group favored individual protest, while Ss distant from entry were more likely to accept their position. The theoretical and societal implications of these findings are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This study investigated the impact of media coverage of a health issue (skin cancer) on judgements of risk to self and others and the role of related communication processes. Consistent with predictions derived from the impersonal impact hypothesis, the effects of mass communication were more evident in perceptions of risk to others rather than in perceptions of personal risk. Perceptions of personal risk were more strongly correlated with interpersonal communication. However, as suggested by media system dependency theory, the relationship between mass communication and beliefs was complex. The impact of mass communication on both personal and impersonal perceptions was found to be moderated by self-reported dependence on mass mediated information. The effect of this two-way interaction on perceptions of personal risk was partially mediated through interpersonal communication. Results point to the interdependence of mass and interpersonal communication as sources of social influence and the role of media dependency in shaping media impact.
Article
The literature on environmental activism has failed to produce a model of individual decision making explicitly linked to the logic of collective action. To remedy this problem, this article adapts the collective interest model developed by Finkel, Muller, and Opp to explain protest behavior and argues environmental activism is a function of citizen beliefs about collective benefits, the ability to influence collective outcomes, and the selective costs/benefits of participation. The author tests the hypotheses of the collective interest model using data from a survey of 460 residents of a coastal watershed and national data on 1,606 respondents from the 1993 General Social Survey Environment Battery. The author’s findings corroborate several central propositions of the collective interest model and provide a theoretical account of environmental activism that synthesizes many previous results.
Article
The agenda-setting function has primarily reinforced the premise that the mass media do not tell people what to think, but what to think about. The possibility that the agenda-setting function may exist in a two-step process is explored, from the transfer of salience to behavioral outcome. The results of a two-group discriminant analysis appear to indicate that specific groups of voters can be identified according to their level of issue concerns. The study suggests that the mass media may not only tell us what to think about, but they influence what actions we take regarding those thoughts.
Article
Recent theoretical models propose that mass media, apart from any influence they may have on personal opinions, can also influence an individual's perceptions of what other people are thinking. But how this influence on perceived public opinion might take place remains a question. One answer proposed here—the persuasive press inference—suggests that people infer public opinion from their perceptions of the content of media coverage and their assumptions of the persuasive impact of that coverage on others. Data were gathered in an experiment measuring participant responses to news stories on two current issues, each presented with either a favorable or unfavorable slant. The slant of both news articles had a significant effect on participants' judgments of public opinion on those issues, even when adjusted for the effect of projected personal opinion. Findings supported the hypothesis that people appear to estimate public opinion based on their own reading of press coverage—an indirect effect of mass media that can have significant consequence.