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Commun Monogr ; 88(3): 263-285, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-740097

ABSTRACT

Insufficient scientific evidence about electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has led to conflicting recommendations (CRs) by credible scientific organizations, creating a public health debate that could prove especially difficult to reconcile as current and former smokers make decisions about whether to use e-cigarettes. To investigate how CRs about e-cigarettes may affect intentions to engage in healthy behaviors, 717 former and current smokers were randomly exposed to one of five conditions (varying in the level of conflict in recommendations) in this between-subject experiment. Our results indicated a significant interaction between the message level of conflict and individuals' information avoidance, employed to maintain hope and deniability. These results suggest the effects of CRs stemming from scientific uncertainty vary with subgroups of people, pointing to several pressing theoretical and practical implications.

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