Doing it Together

Testing the Impersonal Impact Hypothesis in the Public Health Domain




news consumption, media impact, public health, participative efficacy, adherence


The impersonal impact hypothesis states that news consumption leads to an increase of social concern, but not to an increase of personal concern, whereas the latter is most important for stimulating behaviour change. However, previous findings are mixed and mostly investigate private health behaviour. Here we, therefore, conceptually replicate these findings by studying a public health crisis: the case of the Covid-19 pandemic. The results of our longitudinal, five-wave study do not show support for the impersonal impact hypothesis, but rather seem to reveal the possibility of a personal impact hypothesis. That is, our findings show that news consumption increased participants’ personal concerns and to a lesser extent their societal concerns. News consumption furthermore indirectly affected adherence to governmental policy measures via these concerns. Additionally, participants adhered more to these measures when they believed they can make an incremental difference in stopping Covid-19 by adhering to Covid-19 policies (i.e., direct effect of participative beliefs). The belief of “doing it together” seems thus vital for policy adherence. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


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How to Cite

Smit, E. G., Meijers, M. H. C., & Ischen, C. (2023). Doing it Together: Testing the Impersonal Impact Hypothesis in the Public Health Domain. European Journal of Health Communication, 4(3), 1–18.



Original Research Paper