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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 22 that even some of the smokers would be likely to discount their own risk, despite the evidence in front of them. This discounting may be done by believing that others are at risk, that the risk is relevant only at some later point in time, etc. Because the EPPM is based on a strategy that seeks to induce fear from a high-threat message, we need to pay attention to the nature of the emotion that ultimately ensues. Our point here is that, unless the threat is perceived to be personally relevant, fear may not be the primary emotion that a high-threat message elicits. Personalized risk, on the other hand, is likely to be much more proximal to the elicitation of fear. In our experiment, for example, the risk information given to participants was highly personalized – it was, supposedly, calculated from participants’ family history, past behaviors, height, weight, etc. Although it was still possible for participants to generate counterarguments against the risk diagnosis provided to them, it is likely that the discounting of personal vulnerability was small to the extent that participants believed in the integrity of the risk assessment algorithm. Responses to our risk manipulation questions revealed as much. Even if participants did believe in the risk assessment provided to them, our predictions were not always borne out. For two of our outcomes (intention to seek information and actual information seeking), we found no effects. Support for the RPA framework predictions, in fact, were found only for self-protective motivation and rate of knowledge acquisition. It is also interesting to note that we did not observe any self-efficacy main effect. This seems odd, given that self-efficacy is often cited as the best predictor, apart from prior behavior, of future behavior (Bandura, 1986). Risk perception, on the other hand, was positively correlated with three (self-protective motivation, intention to seek information, and behavioral intention) of the five outcome measures. Furthermore, correlational tests of the RPA framework

Authors: Rimal, Rajiv., Morrison, Dan. and Mitchell, Monique.
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The RPA Framework
22
that even some of the smokers would be likely to discount their own risk, despite the evidence in
front of them. This discounting may be done by believing that others are at risk, that the risk is
relevant only at some later point in time, etc.
Because the EPPM is based on a strategy that seeks to induce fear from a high-threat
message, we need to pay attention to the nature of the emotion that ultimately ensues. Our point
here is that, unless the threat is perceived to be personally relevant, fear may not be the primary
emotion that a high-threat message elicits. Personalized risk, on the other hand, is likely to be
much more proximal to the elicitation of fear. In our experiment, for example, the risk
information given to participants was highly personalized – it was, supposedly, calculated from
participants’ family history, past behaviors, height, weight, etc. Although it was still possible for
participants to generate counterarguments against the risk diagnosis provided to them, it is likely
that the discounting of personal vulnerability was small to the extent that participants believed in
the integrity of the risk assessment algorithm. Responses to our risk manipulation questions
revealed as much.
Even if participants did believe in the risk assessment provided to them, our predictions
were not always borne out. For two of our outcomes (intention to seek information and actual
information seeking), we found no effects. Support for the RPA framework predictions, in fact,
were found only for self-protective motivation and rate of knowledge acquisition.
It is also interesting to note that we did not observe any self-efficacy main effect. This
seems odd, given that self-efficacy is often cited as the best predictor, apart from prior behavior,
of future behavior (Bandura, 1986). Risk perception, on the other hand, was positively
correlated with three (self-protective motivation, intention to seek information, and behavioral
intention) of the five outcome measures. Furthermore, correlational tests of the RPA framework


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