Personalization of Risk Through Convergence of Self- and Character-Risk: Narrative Effects on Social Distance and Self-Character Risk Perception Gap

Jiyeon So, Lijiang Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


This study reports a quasi-experiment (N= 374) that examined an underlying mechanism through which narratives can facilitate personalization of risk. The participants were exposed to one of four entertainment clips depicting an at-risk character who either tested positive or negative for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). As predicted, reduction of perceived social distance to an at-risk character resulted in a convergence of perceived self- and character-risk. More importantly, the convergence of risk was driven by an increased perception of self-risk, as opposed to a reduction of character-risk. The observed pattern of risk convergence was much more pronounced in the negative rather than the positive STD test narratives. Furthermore, narrative engagement through identification, parasocial interaction, and perceived realism led to a greater degree of risk convergence, which was mediated by reduction in perceived social distance. The order in which the subjects estimated self- and character-risk did not influence the perceptual gap.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1094-1115
Number of pages22
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Dec 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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