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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Using the Integrative Model to predict protective behaviors around air quality: An in-depth look at the influence of the information environment on behavior.

  • Author(s): Ramondt, Steven
  • Advisor(s): Ramirez, A. Susana
  • et al.

Air pollution is the single largest environmental risk and one of the largest global risk factors. The adverse effects of air pollution on health call for efforts to reduce the pollution in the air. However, since that is a long-term goal that requires the successful engagement of multiple stakeholders, efforts are also necessary to reduce the adverse health effects of air pollution on an individual level. Even though risk reducing behavior is possible (and recommended), the majority of people don’t take such action. Through a series of studies, factors related to risk reducing behavioral intention and the relation with the information environment were explored. Study I examined how air pollution is covered in the media, utilizing a content analysis of two national (the New York Times and the Washington Post) and two local newspapers (the Fresno Bee and the Bakersfield Californian). Newspapers report on the potential health impacts of air pollution, but lack efficacy information, suggesting that the reporting is not conducive to risk reducing behavior. Study II modelled the integrative model of behavior prediction (IM) using data from an online survey of emerging adults (n = 938) living in the SJV. Attitude, social norms, and self-efficacy consistently predicted behavioral intentions in the three primary risk reducing behaviors: staying indoors, limiting physical activity, and using air filters. The information environment was found to be an inconsistent predictor of components in the IM. Exposure to the air quality index – the primary air quality communication tool – was low and was found to have limited effect on determinants of risk reducing behavioral intentions. Attention to media was related with attitude and social norms, but not with self-efficacy. The emphasis of health communication efforts focused on increasing behavioral intention should be on increasing awareness and self-efficacy of the primary risk reducing behaviors.

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