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Strategies for dismissing dietary risks: insights from user-generated comments online

Strategies for dismissing dietary risks: insights from user-generated comments online
Strategies for dismissing dietary risks: insights from user-generated comments online
Communication around chronic dietary risks has proved challenging as dietary health risks are ostensibly met with attenuated perceptions of their likelihood and consequences. In this article, we examine the strategies that an online public use to negotiate risk messages from expert stakeholders that may be incongruent with their own position on a risk. Progressing from conceptualisations of amplification as laid out in the social amplification of risk framework, we are particularly interested in understanding whether and how amplifications of risk may be attributed towards other stakeholders. The article presents an analysis of comments posted on a website oriented to a British audience. These comments were left by members of the public in reply to two online media articles published in 2012 reporting on an epidemiological study carried out in the United States on the risks of red meat consumption. We found that the comments generally expressed resistance to the risk message, embodied in two main strategies. The first strategy was to discount the message itself by deploying rules of thumb that undermined the applicability of the general risk message to the particularities of the individual. The second strategy was to undermine the risks by casting doubt on the credibility of the message source. Together, these strategies allowed the commenters to argue that the risks and the process of communicating them resulted in an exaggerated picture. These findings highlight that by attributing amplification to others, further polarisation of risk views between stakeholders may occur. Thinking about amplification as an attribution provides a distinct and significant conceptual contribution to the study of incongruent risk responses.
1369-8575
308-322
Regan, Áine
df1c90b5-b659-491b-8500-ad3243088c7b
Shan, Liran
f848ec3b-6427-4423-b979-55d78f260e3d
McConnon, Áine
5455780c-488f-4e24-9f85-bec92f914612
Marcu, Afrodita
25ba37d2-9068-4c58-8527-fb799152add3
Raats, Monique
5bf65e41-fd40-43ec-bf3b-dad0041d85f8
Wall, Patrick
d356afcc-8fcb-45fc-9a66-aa3b81f0256f
Barnett, Julie
e075f8d9-cf31-4bfc-a6be-41988b5ce764
Regan, Áine
df1c90b5-b659-491b-8500-ad3243088c7b
Shan, Liran
f848ec3b-6427-4423-b979-55d78f260e3d
McConnon, Áine
5455780c-488f-4e24-9f85-bec92f914612
Marcu, Afrodita
25ba37d2-9068-4c58-8527-fb799152add3
Raats, Monique
5bf65e41-fd40-43ec-bf3b-dad0041d85f8
Wall, Patrick
d356afcc-8fcb-45fc-9a66-aa3b81f0256f
Barnett, Julie
e075f8d9-cf31-4bfc-a6be-41988b5ce764

Regan, Áine, Shan, Liran, McConnon, Áine, Marcu, Afrodita, Raats, Monique, Wall, Patrick and Barnett, Julie (2014) Strategies for dismissing dietary risks: insights from user-generated comments online. Health, Risk & Society, 16 (4), 308-322. (doi:10.1080/13698575.2014.919993).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Communication around chronic dietary risks has proved challenging as dietary health risks are ostensibly met with attenuated perceptions of their likelihood and consequences. In this article, we examine the strategies that an online public use to negotiate risk messages from expert stakeholders that may be incongruent with their own position on a risk. Progressing from conceptualisations of amplification as laid out in the social amplification of risk framework, we are particularly interested in understanding whether and how amplifications of risk may be attributed towards other stakeholders. The article presents an analysis of comments posted on a website oriented to a British audience. These comments were left by members of the public in reply to two online media articles published in 2012 reporting on an epidemiological study carried out in the United States on the risks of red meat consumption. We found that the comments generally expressed resistance to the risk message, embodied in two main strategies. The first strategy was to discount the message itself by deploying rules of thumb that undermined the applicability of the general risk message to the particularities of the individual. The second strategy was to undermine the risks by casting doubt on the credibility of the message source. Together, these strategies allowed the commenters to argue that the risks and the process of communicating them resulted in an exaggerated picture. These findings highlight that by attributing amplification to others, further polarisation of risk views between stakeholders may occur. Thinking about amplification as an attribution provides a distinct and significant conceptual contribution to the study of incongruent risk responses.

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Regan et al 2014_Strategies for dismissing dietary risks_Health Risk and Society.pdf - Author's Original
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Published date: 28 May 2014
Organisations: Psychology

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Local EPrints ID: 365328
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/365328
ISSN: 1369-8575
PURE UUID: 0c19c65d-59aa-4f15-b900-d594730c5020

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Date deposited: 02 Jun 2014 11:36
Last modified: 19 Jul 2019 21:11

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