Giving Radon Gas Life Through Language: Effects of Linguistic Agency Assignment in Health Messages About Inanimate Threats

Marko Dragojevic, Robert A Bell, Matthew S. McGlone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Health messages that linguistically assign agency to a threat (e.g., HIV infects people) tend to evoke more fear and elevate perceptions of threat severity and susceptibility relative to those that assign agency to humans (e.g., people contract HIV). The present experiment (N = 843) extended these findings to a nonliving health threat, radon gas, and compared nonsentient (e.g., radon gas is seeping...) and sentient (e.g., radon gas is invading...) threat agency language. Sentient threat agency language elevated perceptions of threat severity compared to both nonsentient threat and human agency language, which did not differ from each other. Furthermore, sentient threat agency language evoked more fear than nonsentient agency language when the advocated recommendations were moderately (but not completely) effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-98
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Keywords

  • fear appeals
  • health promotion
  • language
  • linguistic agency
  • message design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Language and Linguistics

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Giving Radon Gas Life Through Language: Effects of Linguistic Agency Assignment in Health Messages About Inanimate Threats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this