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Risk and Efficacy as Motivators of Change: Test of the Risk Perception Attitude (RPA) Framework
Unformatted Document Text:  The RPA Framework 20 been sound, and our manipulation seems to have increased participants’ knowledge about the disease. In previous work (XXX, in press), we had found that the avoidance group sought more information than the other groups and that the avoidance group also expressed stronger intentions to change behaviors, compared to the responsive group. To explain this finding, we proposed the incredulity hypothesis. We reasoned that, because the health domain (skin cancer) was one about which participants had extensive knowledge, those in the high-risk groups were unlikely to believe the risk diagnosis and those in the high-risk, low-efficacy (i.e., avoidance) group would react with incredulity. The avoidance group would thus seek more information – not necessarily to learn more about skin cancer for self-protection, but rather to find disconfirming information that would challenge the researchers’ diagnosis of their risk status. This reasoning was based on the assumption that participants’ prior knowledge was already high. Thus, if the study could be done with low prior knowledge, the incredulity hypothesis could no longer apply – after all, if one has low prior knowledge, one would be less likely to challenge the researchers’ diagnosis. Under these circumstances, the RPA framework would predict unhealthier responses from the avoidance group. Of the five dependent variables tested in this paper, the avoidance group and the responsive group were statistically similar in four of them; only for rate of knowledge acquisition did the avoidance group score lower than the responsive group. Thus, we did not find extensive support for the RPA framework, but we did find evidence to indicate that the incredulity hypothesis may have been a valid explanation in the previous study. When participants had little prior knowledge, as was the case in this study, the avoidance group did not seek more information than the other three groups.

Authors: Rimal, Rajiv., Morrison, Dan. and Mitchell, Monique.
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background image
The RPA Framework
20
been sound, and our manipulation seems to have increased participants’ knowledge about the
disease.
In previous work (XXX, in press), we had found that the avoidance group sought more
information than the other groups and that the avoidance group also expressed stronger
intentions to change behaviors, compared to the responsive group. To explain this finding, we
proposed the incredulity hypothesis. We reasoned that, because the health domain (skin cancer)
was one about which participants had extensive knowledge, those in the high-risk groups were
unlikely to believe the risk diagnosis and those in the high-risk, low-efficacy (i.e., avoidance)
group would react with incredulity. The avoidance group would thus seek more information –
not necessarily to learn more about skin cancer for self-protection, but rather to find
disconfirming information that would challenge the researchers’ diagnosis of their risk status.
This reasoning was based on the assumption that participants’ prior knowledge was
already high. Thus, if the study could be done with low prior knowledge, the incredulity
hypothesis could no longer apply – after all, if one has low prior knowledge, one would be less
likely to challenge the researchers’ diagnosis. Under these circumstances, the RPA framework
would predict unhealthier responses from the avoidance group. Of the five dependent variables
tested in this paper, the avoidance group and the responsive group were statistically similar in
four of them; only for rate of knowledge acquisition did the avoidance group score lower than
the responsive group. Thus, we did not find extensive support for the RPA framework, but we
did find evidence to indicate that the incredulity hypothesis may have been a valid explanation in
the previous study. When participants had little prior knowledge, as was the case in this study,
the avoidance group did not seek more information than the other three groups.


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