Responses to Risk Information From Personalised Feedback and Personal Experience

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Risk information is information about the riskiness of certain behaviours and events or about people’s risk status and can indicate either a heightened or a low risk. Integrating this information into risk perceptions is an important prerequisite for engaging in preventive behaviour, if necessary. In some cases, however, people do not respond with increased risk perception to threatening risk information while in other cases reassuring risk information fails to reassure. Therefore, the present dissertation aims at exploring how people respond to risk information and what factors influence this response. To this end, responses to risk information from two frequent sources are examined: personalised health risk feedback and personal risk experience.
First, the dissertation examines responses to risk information from personalised health risk feedback and the role of pre-feedback expectations in information processing. Specifically, it is investigated in a longitudinal study whether unexpected feedback on actual cholesterol levels is accepted to a lesser degree than expected feedback. Risk perceptions are followed up over a period of six months in order to examine the long-term influence of pre-feedback expectations. The analyses show that expected positive and negative feedback is accurately reflected in decreased and increased risk perceptions, respectively. However, unexpected feedback is not generally accepted: both a ‘lack of concern’ as well as a ‘lack of reassurance’ are observed in people receiving either unexpected negative or positive feedback. Moreover, this pattern is still evident six months after the feedback is received. This indicates that pre-existing expectations have a lasting influence on the processing of personalised health risk information, potentially due to people’s strivings for consistency with their own health-related self-concept.
The dissertation then shifts the focus to the processing of risk information from personal experience. It is examined whether people distinguish between risk information that is relevant to themselves and such that is relevant to others (i.e. which target is addressed in the information), and whether this affects personal and general risk perceptions differently (i.e. risk to the self vs. risk to others). As part of a binational study conducted in Israel and Germany, responses to risk information gained through behavioural experience with lifestyle risks (i.e. alcohol consumption, tobacco consumption, and unhealthy eating) and acute hazard experience (terrorism) are investigated. Behavioural experience is predominantly informative for the self while terrorism experience is commonly also informative with regard to the risk to others. Accordingly, it is shown that personal but not general risk perceptions are heightened with more behavioural experience whereas terrorism experience is related to heightened personal and general risk perceptions. This suggests that people distinguish whether the risk information is relevant to themselves or to others, and adapt their risk perceptions accordingly.
Finally, the relationship between behavioural experience and personal risk perception is investigated more closely from a methodological perspective. A new measure for health risk perceptions – people’s perceived speed of ageing determined by their own lifestyle – is designed to assess lifestyle-related health risk perceptions. The study replicates the findings of a heightened personal risk perception with more behavioural experience of alcohol consumption and unhealthy eating and extends them to the domain of physical activity. It is shown that the measure reflects different lifestyle behaviour profiles, which supports its applicability in studies examining the relationship between behavioural experience and health risk perceptions.
The findings of the present dissertation contribute to a deeper understanding of responses to risk information from personalised risk feedback and from personal experience. It shows that both pre-existing expectations as well as the target addressed in the risk information play an important role as they influence how people process the information and integrate them into their risk perceptions. The findings thus highlight the importance of considering both people’s expectations and the target addressed in risk information when investigating responses to risk information as well as when providing people with information about their risk status. Together, this could improve the effectiveness of risk communication strategies as well as medical interventions in the interest of physical and mental health.

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150 Psychologie
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risk perception, health risk, terrorism risk, risk dynamics
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ISO 690KOLLMANN, Josianne, 2021. Responses to Risk Information From Personalised Feedback and Personal Experience [Dissertation]. Konstanz: University of Konstanz
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@phdthesis{Kollmann2021Respo-55987,
  year={2021},
  title={Responses to Risk Information From Personalised Feedback and Personal Experience},
  author={Kollmann, Josianne},
  address={Konstanz},
  school={Universität Konstanz}
}
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    <dcterms:abstract xml:lang="eng">Risk information is information about the riskiness of certain behaviours and events or about people’s risk status and can indicate either a heightened or a low risk. Integrating this information into risk perceptions is an important prerequisite for engaging in preventive behaviour, if necessary. In some cases, however, people do not respond with increased risk perception to threatening risk information while in other cases reassuring risk information fails to reassure. Therefore, the present dissertation aims at exploring how people respond to risk information and what factors influence this response. To this end, responses to risk information from two frequent sources are examined: personalised health risk feedback and personal risk experience.&lt;br /&gt;First, the dissertation examines responses to risk information from personalised health risk feedback and the role of pre-feedback expectations in information processing. Specifically, it is investigated in a longitudinal study whether unexpected feedback on actual cholesterol levels is accepted to a lesser degree than expected feedback. Risk perceptions are followed up over a period of six months in order to examine the long-term influence of pre-feedback expectations. The analyses show that expected positive and negative feedback is accurately reflected in decreased and increased risk perceptions, respectively. However, unexpected feedback is not generally accepted: both a ‘lack of concern’ as well as a ‘lack of reassurance’ are observed in people receiving either unexpected negative or positive feedback. Moreover, this pattern is still evident six months after the feedback is received. This indicates that pre-existing expectations have a lasting influence on the processing of personalised health risk information, potentially due to people’s strivings for consistency with their own health-related self-concept.&lt;br /&gt;The dissertation then shifts the focus to the processing of risk information from personal experience. It is examined whether people distinguish between risk information that is relevant to themselves and such that is relevant to others (i.e. which target is addressed in the information), and whether this affects personal and general risk perceptions differently (i.e. risk to the self vs. risk to others). As part of a binational study conducted in Israel and Germany, responses to risk information gained through behavioural experience with lifestyle risks (i.e. alcohol consumption, tobacco consumption, and unhealthy eating) and acute hazard experience (terrorism) are investigated. Behavioural experience is predominantly informative for the self while terrorism experience is commonly also informative with regard to the risk to others. Accordingly, it is shown that personal but not general risk perceptions are heightened with more behavioural experience whereas terrorism experience is related to heightened personal and general risk perceptions. This suggests that people distinguish whether the risk information is relevant to themselves or to others, and adapt their risk perceptions accordingly.&lt;br /&gt;Finally, the relationship between behavioural experience and personal risk perception is investigated more closely from a methodological perspective. A new measure for health risk perceptions – people’s perceived speed of ageing determined by their own lifestyle – is designed to assess lifestyle-related health risk perceptions. The study replicates the findings of a heightened personal risk perception with more behavioural experience of alcohol consumption and unhealthy eating and extends them to the domain of physical activity. It is shown that the measure reflects different lifestyle behaviour profiles, which supports its applicability in studies examining the relationship between behavioural experience and health risk perceptions.&lt;br /&gt;The findings of the present dissertation contribute to a deeper understanding of responses to risk information from personalised risk feedback and from personal experience. It shows that both pre-existing expectations as well as the target addressed in the risk information play an important role as they influence how people process the information and integrate them into their risk perceptions. The findings thus highlight the importance of considering both people’s expectations and the target addressed in risk information when investigating responses to risk information as well as when providing people with information about their risk status. Together, this could improve the effectiveness of risk communication strategies as well as medical interventions in the interest of physical and mental health.</dcterms:abstract>
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December 17, 2021
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Konstanz, Univ., Diss., 2021
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