The role of perceived level of threat, reactance proneness, political orientation, and coronavirus salience on health behavior intentions

Dylan E. Horner, Alex Sielaff, Tom Pyszczynski, Jeff Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: This pre-registered study was designed to test whether reminders of death and coronavirus would have similar or different effects on health behavior intentions concerning COVID-19 (e.g., mask wearing, social distancing) and whether the type of framing of these behaviors would moderate these effects. Design: The study utilized a 3 (threat: mortality salience vs. coronavirus reminder vs. control topic) x 3 (framing: autonomy-supportive vs. controlled vs. neutral) design. Measures of perceived threat of COVID-19, reactance proneness, and political orientation were included as individual differences. Results: Although the interaction between threat and framing conditions was not significant, the data revealed that (1) lower perceived threat of COVID-19 was associated with lower health behavior intentions to reduce the spread of the virus; (2) after an induction to express their thoughts and feelings about COVID-19, participants with low perceived threat of COVID-19 significantly increased their health intentions; (3) perceived threat of COVID-19 moderated the relationship between reactance proneness and health intentions, such that those high in reactance proneness reported lower intentions unless they had high perceptions of threat; and (4) politically conservative participants reported lower intentions to engage in healthy behaviors, and this relationship was mediated by their lower perceived threat of COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology and Health
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • coronavirus
  • health behaviors
  • mask wearing
  • Mortality salience
  • social distancing
  • terror management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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