Abstract: How individuals experience unintended effects of risk messages is an understudied area. Focusing on three types of unintended effects (i.e., message fatigue, risk tolerance, and psychological reactance) associated with health risk communication, we conducted an online survey among Italian adults (N = 507) to investigate how perceived message fatigue and risk tolerance might induce psychological reactance and whether trust in public health information might mediate this relationship. Results from mediation models revealed: (a) greater message fatigue and risk tolerance increased psychological reactance; (b) greater message fatigue and risk tolerance led to distrust in government-shared health information; (c) trust in public health information mediated the effects of message fatigue and risk tolerance on psychological reactance. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Abstract: One of the understudied topics in risk communication is why individuals do not follow or are resistant to recommended behaviors that optimize personal health outcomes. To understand the dimensionality of these responses, this study investigates barriers for persuasion (i.e., risk tolerance and message fatigue) and trust in government. An online survey using a representative adult sample (n = 510) in Australia was conducted. Key findings include: 1) Greater trust in government lowers the level of risk tolerance; 2) Lowered risk tolerance mediates between greater trust in government and behavioral intention to be more risk preventive; 3) Lowered risk tolerance mediates between greater trust in government and risk preventive information seeking; 4) Greater trust decreases health risk message fatigue; and 5) Lower level of health risk message fatigue mediates between greater trust in government and risk preventive behavioral intention. Implications and future directions for health risk communication theory and practice are discussed.