The impact of communicating conflicting risk and benefit messages: An experimental study on red meat information

Áine Regan, Áine McConnon, Marg Ôt Kuttschreuter, Pieter Rutsaert, Liran Shan, Zuzanna Pieniak, Julie Barnett, Wim Verbeke, Patrick Wall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (SciVal)


Health risk and benefit messages that pertain to the same food may leave consumers unsure about the health consequences and advisability of consuming the food where conflict is inferred between the risk and benefit messages. A 2. ×. 2 between-subjects vignette study was carried out to investigate how food consumers from eight European countries (N= 803) appraised conflicting risk and benefit messages and whether the trustworthiness of a third-party communicator through which a conflicting message is received moderated appraisals of this information. We also investigated whether appraisals were subject to cross-cultural variation based on cultural levels of uncertainty avoidance. Communication of a conflicting message outlining the benefits of red meat led to decreased credibility being attributed to the original risk message compared to when a second confirmatory risk message was communicated. Evaluation of the new information was not impacted by any apparent conflict with the original risk message ; however, the third-party communicating the new message did impact the credibility of this new information. These effects were not subject to cultural variation. Further understanding on the strategies employed by consumers to evaluate conflicting food-related risk and benefit messages is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-114
Number of pages8
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


  • Benefits
  • Communication
  • Conflicting information
  • Red meat
  • Risks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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