Sharing health risk messages on social media: Effects of fear appeal message and image promotion



This study examined how fear appeal and individuals’ image promotion consideration drive users’ intention to share fear appeal messages on social networking sites (SNS). A mixed factorial experiment [2 (high vs. low threat) ´ 2 (high vs. low efficacy) ´ 2 (topic)] was conducted online with a sample of 214 participants recruited from United States. Process regression analysis results indicated that (1) high threat message elicited significant higher intention to share fear appeal messages on SNS; (2) fear arousal significantly enhanced intention to share risk messages directly; (3) high efficacy message resulted in higher intention to share fear appeal messages on SNS through the moderated mediated effect of information processing and intention to follow the health advice; and (4) individual’s intention to promote image on SNS was positively related to intention to share. Theoretical and practical implications for health risk communication on SNS are discussed.

SNS; intention to share; health risk message; fear appeal; persuasion; image management
Author biographies

Xueying Zhang

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Assistant Professor

Department of Journalism and Mass Communication


Shuhua Zhou

University of Missouri

Missouri School of Journalism



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