Clicking and sharing health risk information on social media: how perception and emotion affect behavioral intentions

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University of Alabama Libraries

The dissemination of health risk information is a topic of key importance in health communication. With an explosion of information, health risk messages on social media need to elicit users’ intention to click and to forward to be useful. This study aimed to examine how fear appeal message and individual differences combined to drive users’ intentions to click and share health risk messages on Social Networking Sites (SNSs). Two experiments were conducted online to test the predictors of intentions to click and share respectively, with participants recruited from Mturk. The results suggested that (1) fear appeal message influenced intentions to click and share in a different way than the risk related perceptions did; (2) cognitive elaborations of the risk played a more important role in motivating click and share; (3) individual’s characteristics predicted the intentions to click and share significantly; (4) information processing styles moderated the influence of efficacy perception’s influence on intention to share and (5) the intention to follow the message significantly predicted intention to share. The theoretical and practical implications for health risk message design were discussed.

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