Proposed Model of the Relationship of Risk Information Seeking and Processing to the Development of Preventive Behaviors
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We articulate a model that focuses on characteristics of individuals that might predispose them to seek and process information about health in different ways. Specifically, the model proposes that seven factors—(1) individual characteristics, (2) perceived hazard characteristics, (3) affective response to the risk, (4) felt social pressures to possess relevant information, (5) information sufficiency, (6) one's personal capacity to learn, (7) beliefs about the usefulness of information in various channels—will influence the extent to which a person will seek out this risk information in both routine and nonroutine channels and the extent to which he or she will spend time and effort analyzing the risk information critically. By adapting and synthesizing aspects of Eagly and Chaiken's Heuristic-Systematic Model and Ajzen's Theory of Planned Behavior, we also expect that people who engage in more effortful information seeking and processing are more likely to develop risk-related cognitions, attitudes, and behaviors that are more stable (i.e., less changeable or volatile) over time. Since most forms of health information campaigns attempt to get people to adopt habitual or lifestyle changes, factors leading to the stability or volatility of those behavioral changes are essential concerns.