University of Twente Student Theses


Touch matters : improving risk communications by inducing congruence among physical and linguistic weight

Gerst, C. (2015) Touch matters : improving risk communications by inducing congruence among physical and linguistic weight.

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Abstract:Often limited in success, many governmental campaigns aim at inducing various risk mitigating behaviours among citizens by providing rational arguments. Many years of research within a different context, however, have demonstrated the importance of unconscious information processing in attitude formation. In this paper it is argued that these subconscious psychological processes may be adopted in the context of risk communication as well to increase its effectiveness. Specifically, the role of touch was considered as a powerful means to influence citizen’s impressions. This idea was tested within a 3 (presentation mode: digital, paper heavy, paper light) x 3 (type of language: neutral, heavy, light) between-subjects-design with an airplane safety card. Contrary to expectations, the presentation on screen versus paper had no effect on the evaluation of the dependent variables. The effect remained insignificant even for subjects with a high need for touch. The type of language, however, affected perceptions of importance and seriousness as well as valuation of the airplane safety card. Thereby, the integration of a tactile language compared to a neutral version induced higher scores on the dependent variables. Additionally, congruence effects were studied by cross-pairing presentation mode with type of language. It was assumed that information congruent with each other is processed more fluently and accordingly, evaluated more positively. However, results could not confirm this idea. Findings suggest that future risk information material could be directed through both the digital channel or via traditional print media. The lack of congruence effects indicates that risk communication design could incorporate a tactile language regardless of the format it will be presented in, since both screen and paper versions of the airplane safety card benefited for some variables from a tactile language.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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