Evidence Presentations in Risk Communication From a Selective Exposure Perspective pp. 33-44
Authors: (Matthias R. Hastall and Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick)
Abstract: Attracting the target group‘s attention for messages about health threats remains a big challenge for many communication practitioners. The current study examined how evidence presentation type (statistical versus exemplar evidence) and recipients‘ information processing styles (rationality and experientiality) affect selective exposure to health news. Exemplification Theory (Zillmann, 1999) and Cognitive-Experiential Self-Theory of Personality (Epstein, 2003) served as theoretical frameworks. The assumptions derived from these theories were tested in an online experiment. Respondents (n = 298) browsed an online newsmagazine featuring eight articles. Evidence presentation was manipulated as between-group factor in half of them (featuring exemplar or statistical evidence), while additional constant articles served as competing reading material. Selective exposure to health information was logged by software as dependent measure. Individual differences in information processing styles (rationality and experientiality) were ascertained by questionnaire. Findings show that males preferred health news featuring concrete exemplar evidence, while female‘s information processing style affected how many articles were selected and how much time was spent on them.