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Our study examines the relationship between news exposure at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, personal threat beliefs, beliefs about others’ threat perceptions, and participation in precautionary actions. A survey of 377 U.S . adults revealed a significant main effect of news exposure on various precautionary behaviors (e.g., facial mask wear, physical distancing). Personal threat beliefs and beliefs about others’ threat perceptions serve as unique mechanisms mediating the effect of news on specific CDC-recommended and less socially desirable actions. These findings can guide news sources covering health crises in a socially responsible manner.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Communication Reports, volume, issue, in year, available online at It may differ slightly from the final version of record.

This scholarship is part of the Chapman University COVID-19 Archives.


Western States Communication Association



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