Feeling the weight of calories: Using haptic feedback as virtual exemplars to promote risk perception among young females on unhealthy snack choices

Media Psychology.

Abstract: Virtual simulations allow users to feel and manipulate objects as they would in the physical world. Guided by exemplification theory and risk communication research, a virtual exemplar was developed to allow users to feel the weight of the caloric density of unhealthy snacks (e.g., potato chips) to heighten risk perceptions on snack choices. A 3 (base-rate statistics, print exemplar, virtual exemplar) × 3 (Time 1, Time 2, Time 3) mixed design experiment (N= 152) compared the effect of three mediated modes of delivering health information at baseline, immediately after, and one week after treatments. Virtual exemplars led to greater spatial presence, issue involvement, and recommended health behavior than base-rate statistics or print exemplars, but had no effect on perceived vividness. Heightened perceived susceptibility following virtual exemplars persisted for one week. Findings emphasized the importance of spatial presence elicited by an exemplar in heightening the perceived susceptibility of health risks both immediately after and one week after exposure. The role of spatial presence and vividness in the context of virtual exemplars that afford the illusion of firsthand experiences is discussed and compared against traditional exemplification research that has focused on the impact of secondhand experiences.

Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn  Jung Min Hahm 

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