Noisy haze, quiet dengue: The effects of mass media, interpersonal interactions, and social media on risk amplification
Ng, Yu Jie
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The smoke haze and the dengue fever season are nationwide environmental health risk events that plagued Singapore between April and June 2013. Although relatively harmless compared to the dengue, people in Singapore were visibly more disturbed by the haze. They engaged in preventive behaviors such as frantic purchasing of protective masks or staying indoors most of the time. Such reactions hint at the possibility of the social amplification of risk, a term coined to explain irrationally high public concerns over relatively minor risk issues. The current study aims to confirm the social amplification of risk for the haze event, as well as to test for the underlying reasons behind this phenomenon. Among the antecedents explored were the influence of information channels (mass media, interpersonal interactions, and social media) on risk beliefs and negative emotions on the enactment of preventive behaviors. Data were provided by 343 Singaporean students, and ordinary least squares regression was used for analyzing the data. Results supported the presence of social amplification of risk for the haze event, and interpersonal interactions were found to overshadow the influence of mass media exposure and social media exposure on risk beliefs, negative emotions, and preventive behaviors.