Emerging technologies, emerging knowledge : intentions to seek and share information on social media about the risks and benefits of nanotechnology

Li, Xiaoshan (Ph. D. in advertising)
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The application of nanotechnology to consumer products is on the rise. Without a doubt, consumers benefit from such emerging technology, but they are also vulnerable to any potential risks posed by it (i.e., health). Research suggests that when people want information about a topic, they are increasingly relying on social media to meet their information needs. Therefore, this dissertation is focused on examining the social-cognitive factors that may motivate consumers’ information seeking and sharing intentions – related to the risks and benefits of nanotechnology – with a focus on how those intentions manifest specific to social media. This dissertation is guided by the planned risk information seeking model (PRISM). The PRISM is extended to information sharing behaviors and is compared against models incorporating two additional constructs: benefit perception and positive affect. Structural equation modeling of data collected from an online panel (N=515) reveals complex relationships in the seeking and sharing models when risks and benefits present simultaneously. The results help pinpoint key determinants of risk-benefit information seeking and sharing intentions on social media. Implications and future directions are discussed.