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Reduction of Perceived Social Distance as an Explanation for Media's Influence on Personal Risk Perceptions: A Test of the Risk Convergence Model


Corresponding author: Jiyeon So; e-mail:


The risk convergence model proposes reduction of perceived social distance to a mediated personality as a mechanism through which the mass media can influence audiences' personal risk perceptions. As an initial test of the model, this study examined whether 5 audience variables known to facilitate media effects on personal risk perceptions—identification, parasocial interaction, personal relevance, transportation, and perceived realism—would exert their influences through the reduction of perceived social distance. The results indicate that reduction of perceived social distance fully explained the process of identification and transportation influencing personal risk perceptions, while partially mediating the relationship between personal relevance and personal risk perceptions. Theoretical and practical implications for health risk communication and entertainment education are discussed.