The Influence of Consumer Product Manual Warnings and On-Product Warnings on Information Retrieval and Behavioral Compliance

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Title: The Influence of Consumer Product Manual Warnings and On-Product Warnings on Information Retrieval and Behavioral Compliance
Author: Freeman, Kenya
Advisors: David Kaber, Committee Member
Michael S. Wogalter, Committee Chair
Sharolyn Converse Lane, Committee Member
Abstract: Product warnings are commonly found in owners manuals. A problem with only placing warnings in a product manual is that some users will not read them or remember the material later. Because of the importance in communicating warnings, alternative methods of information presentation must be investigated. There is limited research comparing the presentation of warning information on a product, versus in the manual, versus having the information in both places. This is the first study that specifically investigates the potential utility of having an on-product warning serve as a primary and/or secondary warning. For the present study, participants installed a memory chip into the central processing unit (CPU) of a computer. The independent variables (IVs) were the time of exposure to the product manual and the presence or absence of an on-product warning label. The effects on behavioral compliance and information retrieval performance were investigated. It was hypothesized that individuals that are exposed to the manual for a shorter period of time (25 seconds) and asked to perform the installation task with the warning label present would demonstrate the on-product warnings utility as a primary warning. Individuals exposed to the manual for a longer period of time (5 minutes) and who are exposed to the on-product warning would be expected to show the on-product warnings ability to serve as a secondary warning. The results showed a significant interaction for manual-exposure time and warning-label state, with the possible exception of the shorter manual-exposure, no label condition. The present study found higher levels of behavioral compliance in label conditions, but similar levels of compliance were also found in the longer manual-exposure condition without the label. The results demonstrated that the on-product warning label was useful as a primary warning. A comparison of the mean compliance levels between the longer manual-exposure, label condition and the longer manual-exposure, no label condition, were not found to be significant which fail to support the utility of the on-product warning as a secondary warning, or reminder.
Date: 2003-07-24
Degree: MS
Discipline: Psychology

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