The Impact of Balanced Risk–Benefit Information and Initial Attitudes on Post-Information Attitudes


  • The research reported here was funded by the European Commission and results from the fourth work package (WP4) of the integrated project “SAFE FOODS: Promoting Food Safety Through a New Integrated Risk Analysis Approach for Foods” (FP6-506446).

Heleen van Dijk, Wageningen University, Department of Social Sciences, Marketing, and Consumer Behavior, Hollandseweg 1, 6707 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands. E-mail:


In a realistic social context, people are confronted with both positive and negative information, yet research on this topic is relatively scarce. We present 2 studies examining the role of initial attitudes on the impact of one-sided vs. balanced positive and negative information on attitudes toward food production methods. The first experiment demonstrated that one-sided information influenced post-information attitudes congruent to the direction of the message content. The second experiment showed that the effect of balanced information on post-information attitudes may depend on initial attitudes. These results demonstrate that negativity effects are dominant for people with initial positive attitudes, but change into positivity effects for people with initial negative attitudes. Implications for communicating both positive and negative information are discussed.