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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 24 low efficacy) in self-protective motivation and behavioral intention. It thus appears that a high- risk status is not a prerequisite for changing health behaviors. These two groups, despite their low-risk status, were motivated to change. This is contrary to the EPPM-based findings, which posit that a high-threat message is a necessary condition for change. Our findings seem to suggest that, when perceived risk is low, efficacy beliefs can still exert an impact. Perhaps the difference here lies in what specifically risk and efficacy motivate people to do. The RPA framework suggests that individuals take self-protective action in a proactive manner, before risk levels are high, whereas the EPPM suggests that health behaviors are undertaken in a retroactive manner, when threat is already high. If this line of reasoning is correct, it may well be that the RPA framework is more appropriate for studying behaviors pertaining to prevention, whereas the EPPM is more appropriate for studying behaviors pertaining to the management and cure of diseases. It seems, then, that health messages could be designed with this distinction in mind. The implication appears to be that messages urging people to take preventive action should focus on increasing their self-efficacy, whereas messages urging people to manage a condition or cure a disease should focus on addressing the source of the risk. Future research could certainly test the implied hypothesis. The second implication for message design emerges from the four-group classification scheme proposed by the RPA framework. Although our study provides evidence for the validity of categorizing people into the four groups, we do not yet know what kinds of health information will be most suitable for each group. In this context, future research might ask the following question: Do people in groups defined by their perceived risk and efficacy beliefs prefer messages that contain a comparable level of risk and efficacy? Or, do people with high risk perceptions prefer low-risk messages (and vice versa)? In other words, if we classify messages

Authors: Rimal, Rajiv., Morrison, Dan. and Mitchell, Monique.
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The RPA Framework
24
low efficacy) in self-protective motivation and behavioral intention. It thus appears that a high-
risk status is not a prerequisite for changing health behaviors. These two groups, despite their
low-risk status, were motivated to change. This is contrary to the EPPM-based findings, which
posit that a high-threat message is a necessary condition for change. Our findings seem to
suggest that, when perceived risk is low, efficacy beliefs can still exert an impact. Perhaps the
difference here lies in what specifically risk and efficacy motivate people to do. The RPA
framework suggests that individuals take self-protective action in a proactive manner, before risk
levels are high, whereas the EPPM suggests that health behaviors are undertaken in a retroactive
manner, when threat is already high.
If this line of reasoning is correct, it may well be that the RPA framework is more
appropriate for studying behaviors pertaining to prevention, whereas the EPPM is more
appropriate for studying behaviors pertaining to the management and cure of diseases. It seems,
then, that health messages could be designed with this distinction in mind. The implication
appears to be that messages urging people to take preventive action should focus on increasing
their self-efficacy, whereas messages urging people to manage a condition or cure a disease
should focus on addressing the source of the risk. Future research could certainly test the
implied hypothesis.
The second implication for message design emerges from the four-group classification
scheme proposed by the RPA framework. Although our study provides evidence for the validity
of categorizing people into the four groups, we do not yet know what kinds of health information
will be most suitable for each group. In this context, future research might ask the following
question: Do people in groups defined by their perceived risk and efficacy beliefs prefer
messages that contain a comparable level of risk and efficacy? Or, do people with high risk
perceptions prefer low-risk messages (and vice versa)? In other words, if we classify messages


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