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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 21 Contrary to the predictions of the EPPM, and in support of the RPA framework, we found that the differential influence of efficacy beliefs was not confined to only when risk perceptions were high. For two of the outcomes – self-protective motivation and behavioral intention – the proactive group displayed significantly healthier responses than the indifference group. The proactive group was significantly more motivated to engage in self-protection and it expressed stronger intentions to engage in healthier behaviors than the indifference group. The differential effect of efficacy beliefs among those with high-risk perceptions was found for rate of knowledge acquisition: the responsive group gained knowledge at a more rapid rate than the avoidance group. The EPPM and RPA Framework Discrepancies Overall, analyses reported in this paper seem to indicate that the EPPM findings are at odds with the RPA framework findings. One reason for this discrepancy likely centers around the difference between threat, as conceptualized in the EPPM, and perceived risk, as conceptualized in the RPA framework. Even though both theories are concerned with levels of susceptibility and severity, threat in the EPPM is conceptualized as a property of individuals, but it is operationalized by varying message content. The underlying assumption seems to be that exposure to a high-threat message is isomporphic with high-risk perceptions. In order for this assumption to hold, the threat must be relevant to the individual. If not, people are likely to discount the message. It is possible, after all, to view a high-threat message and yet believe that we are not personally at risk. For example, a commercial depicting the content of a smoker’s cancer-infected lungs may indeed be perceived as a high-threat message. Nonsmokers, however, are unlikely to perceive any personal risk – because it is not relevant to their non-smoking lifestyle. In fact, the literature on optimistic bias (Weinstein, 1982, 1983, 1989) would predict

Authors: Rimal, Rajiv., Morrison, Dan. and Mitchell, Monique.
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The RPA Framework
21
Contrary to the predictions of the EPPM, and in support of the RPA framework, we
found that the differential influence of efficacy beliefs was not confined to only when risk
perceptions were high. For two of the outcomes – self-protective motivation and behavioral
intention – the proactive group displayed significantly healthier responses than the indifference
group. The proactive group was significantly more motivated to engage in self-protection and it
expressed stronger intentions to engage in healthier behaviors than the indifference group. The
differential effect of efficacy beliefs among those with high-risk perceptions was found for rate
of knowledge acquisition: the responsive group gained knowledge at a more rapid rate than the
avoidance group.
The EPPM and RPA Framework Discrepancies
Overall, analyses reported in this paper seem to indicate that the EPPM findings are at
odds with the RPA framework findings. One reason for this discrepancy likely centers around
the difference between threat, as conceptualized in the EPPM, and perceived risk, as
conceptualized in the RPA framework. Even though both theories are concerned with levels of
susceptibility and severity, threat in the EPPM is conceptualized as a property of individuals, but
it is operationalized by varying message content. The underlying assumption seems to be that
exposure to a high-threat message is isomporphic with high-risk perceptions. In order for this
assumption to hold, the threat must be relevant to the individual. If not, people are likely to
discount the message. It is possible, after all, to view a high-threat message and yet believe that
we are not personally at risk. For example, a commercial depicting the content of a smoker’s
cancer-infected lungs may indeed be perceived as a high-threat message. Nonsmokers, however,
are unlikely to perceive any personal risk – because it is not relevant to their non-smoking
lifestyle. In fact, the literature on optimistic bias (Weinstein, 1982, 1983, 1989) would predict


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