Authors: Zijian Harrison Gong, et al.

SAGE Open, Volume 12, Issue 2, April-June 2022.
Disgust imageries often shun readers away from attending to important environmental messages. Based on the Limited Capacity Model and Construal Level Theory, an eye-tracking experiment was conducted to test the influence of psychological distance and disgust images on attention to environmental messages. Results indicated that psychological distance moderated disgust images’ influence on attention to environmental communication messages. Disgust images increased attention to environmental messages only under the far distance condition. Additionally, disgust images increased attention to risk information but not efficacy information under the far distance condition, whereas non-disgust images increased attention to efficacy information under the close distance condition. All effects reported above were more salient among participants holding a more pro-environment worldview. Theoretical advances include the use of far psychological distance to reduce defensive reactions and the differential impact of disgust images on risk and efficacy information at the close or far psychological distance. Applied implications highlight the potentials of disgusting/non-disgusting images in emphasizing risk or efficacy information and reducing message avoidance.

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