Affective and cognitive reactions towards emerging food safety risks in Europe

Year of publication: 2014
Author(s): De Vocht Melanie; Cauberghe Verolien; Uyttendaele Mieke & Sas Benedikt
Appeared in: Journal of Risk Research

Abstract

Climate change and globalization may impact the microbiological food safety on fresh produce that is eaten raw. Hence, food risk communication to inform consumers needs to be carried out. The present study investigates affective and cognitive reactions of individuals towards a risk message with regard to the emerging food safety risks, using the risk-as-feelings theory and the affect heu- ristic as a theoretical basis. This research elaborates on whether these reactions towards a risk message vary across some European countries (i.e. Norway, Spain, Serbia and Belgium). The results show that compared to affective reac- tions, cognitive reactions have a higher predictive influence on behavioural intentions (i.e. the intention to alert loved ones, rinse fresh produce better, think about how to avert the risk and seek information). Both affective and cognitive reactions, as well as their predictive impact, differ significantly amongst the countries. Trust in the government, subjective knowledge about the topic and behavioural intentions differ as well per country. Based on these varying results of the impacts of affective and cognitive reactions on behavioural intentions that were observed in different countries, it is recommended that risk communication strategies be adapted on a national rather than on a European level.

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