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A Close Examination of the 1-in-X Effect and Its Impact on Health Risk Perceptions

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Title: A Close Examination of the 1-in-X Effect and Its Impact on Health Risk Perceptions
Author: Gong, Yidan
Department: Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies
Program: Marketing and Consumer Studies
Advisor: Mark, Tanya
Abstract: Research has shown that when communicating a medical risk in the 1-in-X format, people perceived the probability of being affected by the risk to be higher than when communicating the risk in the N-in-N*X format. Numerous heuristics have been examined to see whether they can explain this 1-in-X effect. However, a theoretical explanation for the 1-in-X effect has still not been determined. In this thesis, I first aimed to test whether the 1-in-X effect occurs when utilizing the 1-in-X numerical format in a fear appeal message that promotes healthy behavior and whether the 1-in-X effect can help consumers initiate behavioral change more effectively. Secondly, I aimed to find a viable explanation for the 1-in-X effect. In two experiments, I found that when communicating a health risk in the 1-in-X format, participants perceived the probability of being affected by the risk significantly higher, were significantly more worried and more willing to take actions to reduce the risk than when communicating the risk in the N-in-N*X format. In addition, I found that the 1-in-X effect occurs because it was easier for people to imagine the risk than when communicating the risk in the 1-in-X format than in the N-in-N*X format. This ease of imagination ultimately heightens the perceived probability when risk is presented in the 1-in-X format. These findings contribute to various aspects of consumer psychology, social psychology, and medical decision making literature and provide substantial implications for social marketing.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/9588
Date: 2016-04
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