Exploring Risk Perception and Intention to Engage in Social and Economic Activities During the South Korean MERS Outbreak
Analyzing data from a nationally representative online survey, this study explores the influence of individuals’ media exposure, information-gathering ability, and trust in institutions on their risk perceptions and behavioral intentions to engage in social and economic activities during the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreak in South Korea. We find that media exposure, information-gathering ability, trust in the government, and trust in news media are significant factors in shaping the public’s risk perceptions of the virus, which in turn influenced their intentions to engage in social and economic activities. The results demonstrate that the MERS outbreak was not only a public health issue but also an economic one. The study findings have important implications for effective risk and health communication and for the roles of government and news media during future national risk events affecting public health.