Health Risk Perceptions and Consumer Psychology
27 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2006
Date Written: September 1, 2006
This chapter outlines recent developments in the consumer psychology literature examining people's health-related risk perceptions. We first define risk, and discuss the importance of studying risk perceptions in the health domain. We integrate extant models proposed in social and health psychology and build a theoretical model for examining risk perceptions. We then describe the model in terms of the antecedents of health risk perceptions (e.g., motivational, cognitive, affective, contextual, and individual differences), their consequences (e.g., awareness and interest in the health hazard, trial and adoption of precautions or medical treatments, and subsequent behavior in terms of continued adoption or repetition, and word-of-mouth/recommendations of precautionary steps or treatments), and the factors that moderate the link between these two (e.g., financial, performance, psycho-social, and physiological risk). A primary contribution of our approach is to suggest that eliciting risk perceptions serves a persuasive role besides a measurement role, leading to the provocative question as to whether marketers should knowingly leverage their knowledge of how consumers assess risk to encourage behaviors leading to a healthier lifestyle. Implications for public policy makers, consumer welfare advocates, and commercial marketing companies are also discussed.
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