Influencing Feelings of Cancer Risk: Direct and Moderator Effects of Affectively Laden Phrases in Risk Communication

E. Janssen, L. van Osch, L. Lechner, H. de Vries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Evidence is accumulating for the importance of feelings of risk in explaining cancer preventive behaviors, but best practices for influencing these feelings are limited. This study investigated the direct and moderational influence of affectively laden phrases in cancer risk messages. Two experimental studies were conducted in relation to different cancer-related behaviors-sunbed use (n=112) and red meat consumption (n=447)-among student and nonstudent samples. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: (a) a cognitive message using cognitively laden phrases or (b) an affective message using affectively laden phrases. The results revealed that affective phrases did not directly influence feelings of risk in both studies. Evidence for a moderational influence was found in Study 2, suggesting that affective information strengthened the relation between feelings of risk and intention (i.e., participants relied more on their feelings in the decision-making process after exposure to affective information). These findings suggest that solely using affective phrases in risk communication may not be sufficient to directly influence feelings of risk and other methods need to be explored in future research. Moreover, research is needed to replicate our preliminary indications for a moderational influence of affective phrases to advance theory and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-327
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Health Communication : International Perspectives
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2015

Keywords

  • ATTITUDE FORMATION
  • DECISION-MAKING
  • COGNITION
  • PERCEPTION
  • EMOTION
  • ASSOCIATIONS
  • MESSAGES
  • JUDGMENT
  • BEHAVIOR
  • CHOICE

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