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Risk Perception and Information Processing: The Development and Validation of a Questionnaire to Assess Self-Reported Information Processing


  • Chris M. R. Smerecnik,

    Corresponding author
      Chris Smerecnik, PO Box 616, 6200 MD, Maastricht, the Netherlands; tel: +31 43 3884278; fax: + 31 43 3671032;
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  • Ilse Mesters,

  • Math J. J. M. Candel,

  • Hein De Vries,

  • Nanne K. De Vries

Chris Smerecnik, PO Box 616, 6200 MD, Maastricht, the Netherlands; tel: +31 43 3884278; fax: + 31 43 3671032;


The role of information processing in understanding people's responses to risk information has recently received substantial attention. One limitation of this research concerns the unavailability of a validated questionnaire of information processing. This article presents two studies in which we describe the development and validation of the Information-Processing Questionnaire to meet that need. Study 1 describes the development and initial validation of the questionnaire. Participants were randomized to either a systematic processing or a heuristic processing condition after which they completed a manipulation check and the initial 15-item questionnaire and again two weeks later. The questionnaire was subjected to factor reliability and validity analyses on both measurement times for purposes of cross-validation of the results. A two-factor solution was observed representing a systematic processing and a heuristic processing subscale. The resulting scale showed good reliability and validity, with the systematic condition scoring significantly higher on the systematic subscale and the heuristic processing condition significantly higher on the heuristic subscale. Study 2 sought to further validate the questionnaire in a field study. Results of the second study corresponded with those of Study 1 and provided further evidence of the validity of the Information-Processing Questionnaire. The availability of this information-processing scale will be a valuable asset for future research and may provide researchers with new research opportunities.

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