Talking about health messages
The relationship between perceived complexity, processing time, and conversational intentions
Interpersonal communication has been shown to influence health campaign outcomes, but little is known about ways in which conversations can actually be elicited. In this correlational study, we tested the assumption that perceived complexity of the message can be a predictor of interpersonal communication. Forty participants were exposed to six different health messages varying in perceived complexity. The results show that the more the message was perceived as complex, the longer it took to understand it. Longer message processing times, in turn, were associated with higher intentions to talk, but only about messages that were of low personal relevance. When messages had a high personal relevance, longer processing times were associated with lower intentions to talk. Apparently, if a message is clearly relevant, longer processing due to perceived complexity is detrimental to the occurrence of interpersonal communication.
Keywords: interpersonal communication, message processing, health campaign, health communication
Published online: 23 February 2017
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