A field experiment in communicating a new risk: Effects of the source and a message containing explicit conclusions

Jan M. Gutteling

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    14 Citations (Scopus)


    In this field experiment in risk communication, 383 inhabitants of Dutch cities received a brochure containing information about the risks and benefits of a new hazardous technology. The control group consisted of 125 subjects who did not receive a brochure. In the experiment, the source (Ministry of the Environment or the fictitious Dutch Plastics Recycling Company) and explicitness of conclusions (with or without explicit conclusions) were varied in a 2 x 2 posttest-only design. The results show that the information influenced the subjects' knowledge of the technology, their assessment of the benefits, and their attitude toward the technology. No effects were found for assessment of the risks, feelings of insecurity, perceived threat, or intentions to adopt protest behavior. No significant differences were found as a function of information source, due to sources' very similar credibility profiles. The explicit conclusions led the subjects to judge the benefits of the technology as being greater. Furthermore, the results indicate a less reserved reaction to the risk communication among people who experienced relatively more nuisance from existing industrial activities compared to people who experienced relatively little nuisance.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)295-316
    Number of pages25
    JournalBasic and applied social psychology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1993


    • METIS-148906

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