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Societal Responses to Familiar Versus Unfamiliar Risk: Comparisons of Influenza and SARS in Korea

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This study examines the connections between familiar (influenza) and unfamiliar (SARS) risks among the general public in a SARS affected society. Using a survey of 350 respondents in Chonju, we find that risk perceptions and a belief that influenza vaccination reduces the incidence of SARS explain behavioral intentions for influenza vaccination and purchase responses to a hypothetical SARS vaccine. Those respondents who believe that an influenza vaccination will very likely reduce SARS incidence have a high probability (79%) of intending to vaccinate, but a much lower WTP for a SARS vaccine than those without such a belief. This belief undoubtedly was influenced by a reframing of influenza vaccination as preventing SARS. Such reframing may lead to short-term improvements in vaccination rates to the detriment of long-term SARS vaccination development. When compared with a similar study in Taiwan, societal risk perceptions of SARS and WTP for a vaccine vary greatly according to the extent of a society's experience with SARS.
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Keywords: Contingent valuation; reframing; risk perception; trust; willingness to pay

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Division of Resource Management, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA.

Publication date: 01 October 2006

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