Warning labels and emotion: The effect of fear on likelihood of use and precautionary intent

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Title: Warning labels and emotion: The effect of fear on likelihood of use and precautionary intent
Author: Sheppler, Christina, 1980-
Abstract: Research in the warnings literature has investigated several factors that may affect motivation to comply with the information contained in warnings. However, little research in this area has examined the role that emotion may play in motivating behavior. Three studies were conducted to determine whether participants had an emotional response to warning labels, and, if so, whether the activated emotions were related to behavioral intentions. In Study 1 ( N = 202), participants were asked to imagine themselves in specific situations in which they needed to use particular products. They were then presented with actual warning labels from common consumer products. Both before and after presentation of the warning, participants were asked to rate the extent to which they felt specific emotions and their behavioral intentions. For the majority of the products, surprise and fear increased after exposure to the warning labels. In addition, fear predicted likelihood of use for 9 of the 12 products. In Study 2 ( N = 200), the general framework of the Extended Parallel Process Model (Witte, 1992) was used in an attempt to manipulate fear responses to the warning labels. Four warning labels were created by varying severity of the consequences (low, high) and efficacy of the precautionary instructions (low, high). Participants exposed to the high severity/high efficacy warning label reported higher levels of fear than those in the other three conditions. Fear was negatively correlated with likelihood of use, but positively correlated with precautionary intent. Study 3 ( N = 256) was conducted in an effort to replicate the findings of Study 2 and determine whether the findings would generalize when the four warning labels were paired with a different consumer product. Participants in the high severity conditions reported higher levels of fear than those in the low severity conditions. Again, fear was negatively correlated with likelihood of use and positively correlated with precautionary intent. Possible reasons for the different effects of severity and efficacy on the fear responses for Studies 2 and 3 are explored. Implications of the findings, study limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.
Description: xiii, 164 p. : ill. A print copy of this thesis is available through the UO Libraries. Search the library catalog for the location and call number.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/10252
Date: 2009-06


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