Designing effective rebuttals to combat online health rumors is a critical issue that has received increasing attention, yet it remains largely unexplored. Previous studies on rumor rebuttals have largely overlooked the role of threat warnings, and focused mainly on the direct effects on target rumors, neglecting the spillover effects. Drawing from the protection motivation theory, this study employed a 2×2 experimental design to examine the impact of health rumor rebuttal with severity and susceptibility threat warnings. Results show that the rebuttal with severity threat warning increased users’ intention to share the target rebuttal and to verify non-target rumors, while susceptibility threat warning weakened the positive spillover effect of severity threat warning. This study not only enhances our current understanding of the design and effects of health rumor rebuttals but also contributes to protection motivation theory by revealing the distinct roles played by severity and susceptibility.
Shen, Xiao-Liang and Wu, You, "Emphasizing Severity over Susceptibility: The Impact of Threat Warnings in Health Rumor Rebuttals" (2023). PACIS 2023 Proceedings. 157.
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