Fear of Zika: Information Seeking as Cause and Consequence

This study examined the relationship between information seeking and fear during the Zika-induced global health crisis. A longitudinal survey of women in the Southern U.S. (N = 306) was conducted in 2016, beginning just days after the World Health Organization declared Zika a global crisis. The data showed that time 1 fear stimulated information seeking at time 2 and that time 2 information seeking caused fear at time 3. This pattern held regardless of whether participants were pregnant or planning to become pregnant (high personal relevance) versus neither (low personal relevance). The findings are at odds with most theories of fear appeals and only partially supportive of contemporary models of information seeking. From an applied standpoint, the results suggest (a) that information seeking should not be assumed to produce uniformly attractive outcomes and (b) that, during a disease crisis, health agencies should anticipate proactive behaviors by members of the public and plan accordingly.

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Health Communication on 2021-11-10, available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/10410236.2020.1794554.



Work Title Fear of Zika: Information Seeking as Cause and Consequence
Open Access
  1. James Price Dillard
  2. Ruobing Li
  3. Chun Yang
  1. Fear
  2. Information-seeking
  3. Zika
  4. Infectious disease
  5. Crisis communication
License CC BY-NC 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial)
Work Type Article
  1. Health Communication
Publication Date August 6, 2020
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
  1. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2020.1794554
Deposited March 05, 2024




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Fear_of_Zika_revised_05_18_2020.docx
  • Added Creator James Price Dillard
  • Added Creator Ruobing Li
  • Added Creator Chun Yang
  • Published
  • Updated Keyword, Publication Date Show Changes
    • Fear, Information-seeking, Zika, Infectious disease, Crisis communication
    Publication Date
    • 2021-01-01
    • 2020-08-06
  • Updated