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Rationality and Context: Antidotes for Anthrax Anecdotes
Unformatted Document Text:  11 They also indicated how newsworthy and informative the anthrax story was on two scale items. On two different scales, one verbal and one quantitative, participants rated the likelihood they would become an anthrax victim. Participants estimated the number of minutes they spent on the previous day watching television, listening to the radio and reading the newspaper, and they indicated on a five-point scale how closely they follow the news. Finally, they provided some demographic information. After completing the initial questionnaire, they returned it to the study director who gave them a second questionnaire to complete anonymously and alone. This questionnaire contained the 40- item, long form of the REI (Norris & Epstein, 2002). After completing this booklet, participants returned it to the study director and were debriefed. Results Index Construction The bi-polar scales concerned-unconcerned, scared-not scared, calm-anxious and good-bad were combined to form a relatively reliable ( α = .73, M = 28.58, SD = 5.36) news item apprehension index that ranged from 4-44, scored such that higher scores indicated higher levels of felt apprehension in response to the anthrax story. The two, 11- point scale items concerned with the newsworthiness (M = 7.72, SD = 2.25) and informativeness (M = 5.91, SD = 2.60) were treated individually because they failed to form a reliable index ( = .54). This was also the case with the 11-point verbal (M = 2.67, SD = 1.90) and quantitative (M = 1.58, SD = 1.21) items that requested estimates of anthrax victimization risk ( = .44). These two items failed to correlate well because of marked restriction in their ranges arising from the fact that they were both extremely skewed toward the low likelihood scale anchor. The 20, five-point rationality items of the

Authors: Berger, Charles., Johnson, Joel. and Lee, Eun-Ju.
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11
They also indicated how newsworthy and informative the anthrax story was on two scale
items. On two different scales, one verbal and one quantitative, participants rated the
likelihood they would become an anthrax victim. Participants estimated the number of
minutes they spent on the previous day watching television, listening to the radio and
reading the newspaper, and they indicated on a five-point scale how closely they follow
the news. Finally, they provided some demographic information. After completing the
initial questionnaire, they returned it to the study director who gave them a second
questionnaire to complete anonymously and alone. This questionnaire contained the 40-
item, long form of the REI (Norris & Epstein, 2002). After completing this booklet,
participants returned it to the study director and were debriefed.
Results
Index Construction
The bi-polar scales concerned-unconcerned, scared-not scared, calm-anxious and
good-bad were combined to form a relatively reliable (
α
= .73, M = 28.58, SD = 5.36)
news item apprehension index that ranged from 4-44, scored such that higher scores
indicated higher levels of felt apprehension in response to the anthrax story. The two, 11-
point scale items concerned with the newsworthiness (M = 7.72, SD = 2.25) and
informativeness (M = 5.91, SD = 2.60) were treated individually because they failed to
form a reliable index ( = .54). This was also the case with the 11-point verbal (M = 2.67,
SD = 1.90) and quantitative (M = 1.58, SD = 1.21) items that requested estimates of
anthrax victimization risk ( = .44). These two items failed to correlate well because of
marked restriction in their ranges arising from the fact that they were both extremely
skewed toward the low likelihood scale anchor. The 20, five-point rationality items of the


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