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Is it good to blame the government for food safety concerns? Attributions of responsibility, new media uses, risk perceptions, and behavioral intentions in South Korea
- Kim, Hwalbin, Jang, S. Mo, Noh, Ghee Young
- Journal of food safety 2019 v.39 no.1 pp. e12570
- Internet, agrochemicals, dairy products, food additives, food safety, genetically modified organisms, health promotion, models, pesticides, public opinion, risk behavior, risk perception, social networks, surveys, South Korea
- This study tested a mediation model of the relationships among new types of media used to obtain news, attributions of responsibility to individuals or the government, risk perceptions, and behavioral intentions for four food safety concerns: genetically modified organisms, food additives, agrochemical residues, and pesticides in dairy products. A sample from a nationwide online panel survey (N = 1,000) found that use of Internet news services (INS) increased attribution of responsibility to the government, whereas social media use positively related to attributions of responsibility to individuals and to the government. Additionally, attribution of responsibility to the government predicted risk perceptions, which, in turn, positively related to behavioral intentions. Regarding mediation effects, use of INS positively and indirectly influenced behavioral intentions when mediated by attribution of responsibility to the government and risk perceptions. Social media had significant indirect effects on behavioral intentions through attribution of responsibility to individuals and attribution of responsibility to the government; through risk perception; and through attribution of responsibility to the government and risk perception. Thus, attribution of responsibility to the government was important to behavioral intentions, and several unique theoretical and practical contributions to health communication research and practice are discussed. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: This study found that attribution of responsibility to the government was a key mediator between INS or social media and behavioral intentions. Thus, journalists should accurately and sufficiently reveal the causes of and solutions to food safety problems. Also, this study showed that the indirect effect of social media on behavioral intentions was stronger than that of INS. Health communication practitioners and policymakers should pay more attention to the influence of social media when they want to change public perceptions and increase perceived risks to prevent risky behaviors. This approach applies to all public health problems, not only those regarding food safety. Indeed, public health officials and agencies usually have SNS accounts, with which they might directly and actively communicate with the public when food safety is at risk and from which they might launch various public health campaigns.