How People Perceive and Will Cope with Risks from the Diffusion of Ubiquitous Information and Communication Technologies


Address correspondence to Stephanie Moser, University of Berne, Interdisciplinary Center for General Ecology, Schanzeneckstr.1, P.O.B. 8573, 3001 Bern, Switzerland;


Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are increasingly pervasive and continue to reshape our environment. This trend carries different risks. Therefore, the early sensitization of people to these risks, as well as improving their capacity for protective coping behavior, is essential. Based on the protection motivation theory (PMT), we examined with structural equation modeling the relationships between different components of threat and coping appraisal to explain protective and nonprotective responses. Calculations were performed with data from a representative survey on perception and use of ICT among German residents (N= 5,030). Our findings largely supported the proposed model: an increased perceived threat was positively related to the intentions to react protectively and nonprotectively. Perceived coping efficacy increased the protective and decreased the nonprotective responses. Negative affect enhanced the perceived threat and the nonprotective response, but inhibited protective intentions. The implications of these findings on how to sensitize people to the risks of these new technologies are outlined.