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: To better understand how uncertainty influences publics’ risk perception and responses, this study introduced risk tolerance as a new concept to public relations literature and then investigated how publics react to health risks with different temporal distances: climate change and foodborne illness. Through an online survey, this study found out that uncertainty induced by risk temporal distance, leads to varied risk tolerance, which subsequently influences where and how people seek and share risk information.