The Effects of Efficacy Framing in News Information and Health Anxiety on Coronavirus-Disease-2019-Related Cognitive Outcomes and Interpretation Bias

Tiffany J. Tao, Frederick H.F. Chan, Jingwen Jin, Tom J. Barry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Within the coronavirus-disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, disease-related information is omnipresent in the media, whereas information about how to manage the pandemic is less often covered. Under the context where threat is present, this study investigated whether and how the strength of efficacy framing (i.e., the perspective adopted by a communicating text that emphasizes one’s possibilities to cope with an external threat) of COVID-19-related news, as well as its interaction with trait health anxiety under the COVID-19 context, related to people’s COVID-19-related cognitive outcomes. One hundred and ninety-three participants reported demographics, trait health anxiety, and COVID-19-related behaviors (e.g., precautionary measures, information-seeking behaviors). They then either read high-efficacy (n = 112; e.g., cure rate) or low-efficacy (n = 81; e.g., mortality rate) information about COVID-19. Afterward, their tendency to interpret illness and COVID-19-related information more negatively, and other COVID-19-related cognitions (e.g., risk perception, behavioral change intentions) were assessed. High-efficacy framing resulted in lower-risk perception and marginally weaker COVID-19-related interpretation bias, compared with low-efficacy framing. There was some evidence of an interaction with health anxiety such that high-efficacy framing, compared with low-efficacy framing, was associated with greater intention to adopt protective behaviors, particularly for individuals with higher levels of health anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2943-2956
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Volume151
Issue number11
Early online date7 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Seed Fund for Basic Research for New Staff (Ref.: 201909185028) from The University of Hong Kong. The funding body had no involvement in any aspect of the article preparation. The data that support the findings of this study are openly available in Open Science Framework at https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/VZUFC

Keywords

  • Coronavirus
  • Framing effects
  • Health anxiety
  • News media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental Neuroscience

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