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Rationality and Context: Antidotes for Anthrax Anecdotes
Unformatted Document Text:  18 the class to complete the questionnaires. The questionnaires were completed anonymously. Results Index Construction The same four bi-polar adjective scales were summed to form a news item apprehension scale ( = .76, M = 26.57, SD = 6.56). The two, 11-point items concerned with the newsworthiness (M = 7.13, SD = 2.18) and informativeness (M = 5.32, SD = 2.07) were treated individually because they again failed to form an acceptably reliable index ( = .68). This was also the case with the 11-point verbal (M = 2.91, SD = 1.97) and quantitative (M = 1.53, SD = 1.00) items that requested estimates of anthrax victimization risk ( = .66). The 20, five-point rationality items of the REI formed a reliable scale ( α = .87; M = 72.67, SD = 9.69), as did the 20 experientiality items ( α = .87; M = 70.06, SD = 9.03). Again, the two scales were not significantly correlated (r = .11). Time 1-Time 2 Changes A series of t-tests compared Experiment 1 and Experiment 2 participants with respect to news item apprehension, seriousness of the anthrax problem, newsworthiness and informativeness of the anthrax story, perceived likelihood of anthrax victimization risk, rationality, experientiality, minutes spent with various media, attention paid to news, and class level. Three significant differences emerged from these analyses. Experiment 1 participants (M = 7.55, SD = 2.51) rated anthrax to be a significantly more serious national problem than did Experiment 2 participants (M = 6.61, SD = 2.60), t(158) = 2.32, p < .03, two-tailed. Similarly, Experiment 1 participants (M = 28.58, SD = 5.39) reported significantly higher levels of apprehension in response to the anthrax news story than did

Authors: Berger, Charles., Johnson, Joel. and Lee, Eun-Ju.
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18
the class to complete the questionnaires. The questionnaires were completed
anonymously.
Results
Index Construction
The same four bi-polar adjective scales were summed to form a news item
apprehension scale ( = .76, M = 26.57, SD = 6.56). The two, 11-point items concerned
with the newsworthiness (M = 7.13, SD = 2.18) and informativeness (M = 5.32, SD =
2.07) were treated individually because they again failed to form an acceptably reliable
index ( = .68). This was also the case with the 11-point verbal (M = 2.91, SD = 1.97)
and quantitative (M = 1.53, SD = 1.00) items that requested estimates of anthrax
victimization risk ( = .66). The 20, five-point rationality items of the REI formed a
reliable scale (
α
= .87; M = 72.67, SD = 9.69), as did the 20 experientiality items (
α
= .87;
M = 70.06, SD = 9.03). Again, the two scales were not significantly correlated (r = .11).
Time 1-Time 2 Changes
A series of t-tests compared Experiment 1 and Experiment 2 participants with
respect to news item apprehension, seriousness of the anthrax problem, newsworthiness
and informativeness of the anthrax story, perceived likelihood of anthrax victimization
risk, rationality, experientiality, minutes spent with various media, attention paid to news,
and class level. Three significant differences emerged from these analyses. Experiment 1
participants (M = 7.55, SD = 2.51) rated anthrax to be a significantly more serious
national problem than did Experiment 2 participants (M = 6.61, SD = 2.60), t(158) = 2.32,
p < .03, two-tailed. Similarly, Experiment 1 participants (M = 28.58, SD = 5.39) reported
significantly higher levels of apprehension in response to the anthrax news story than did


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