Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Moore School of Business


Business Administration

First Advisor

Priyali Rajagopal


This dissertation examines the effects of warning messages that emphasize the social consequences of negative health outcomes and demonstrates that highlighting social (versus health) consequences leads to greater perceived temporal proximity of the outcome, increased perceived vulnerability to the outcome, and less favorable consumption experiences. Oftentimes health messages are ineffective at altering risk perceptions and eliciting long-term behavior change because the health consequence seems very distant and unlikely to happen (e.g. mouth cancer from smoking). However, when a negative health outcome is seen through a social lens (e.g. mouth cancer makes a person unattractive) versus a health lens (e.g. mouth cancer weakens the immune system) the health outcome (e.g. mouth cancer) appears closer in time and individuals feel more vulnerable to it.

Across two essays I investigate how social consequences influence perceptions of risk (essay 1) and delayed consumption experiences (essay 2). In the first essay, I document that when social consequences are emphasized individuals see the health outcome as more temporally proximate and feel more vulnerable to the outcome. In the second essay, I demonstrate that warning messages that emphasize social consequences can alter the enjoyment and favorability of the targeted health behavior. These findings suggest that the use of social consequences may have long term, subtle effects on consumer experiences, thereby increasing the likelihood of compliance with the message.


© 2016, Mitchel Richard Murdock