Cognitive and affective perceptions of vulnerability as predictors of exercise intentions among people with type 2 diabetes

David B. Portnoy, Annette R. Kaufman, William M.P. Klein, Todd A. Doyle, Mary De Groot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


Most conventional measures of risk perception such as perceived likelihood address largely deliberative or cognitive perceptions of vulnerability. Nevertheless, affective perceptions of vulnerability such as worry may have different antecedents and consequences than do these conventional measures, serve as stronger predictors of behavior, and qualify effects of conventional deliberative risk perceptions on behavior. In this study, we assessed how worry-the most common measure of affective perceptions of vulnerability compared with three conventional measures of risk (absolute risk, comparative risk, and conditional risk) in predicting behavioral intentions. Participants were 83 adults with type 2 diabetes who assessed their risk of heart disease and reported their intentions to increase physical activity (which reduces heart disease risk). As predicted, worry was the only significant predictor of exercise intentions such that higher worry was associated with higher intentions. Importantly, this relationship was stronger among individuals who perceived their absolute risk to be relatively higher and those who perceived their comparative risk to be relatively lower, demonstrating that cognitive and affective perceptions interact. These findings highlight the importance of not conflating affective and cognitive perceptions of vulnerability when assessing perceived risk and suggest the need for more research on how to best conceptualize perceived risk in different samples and settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-193
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 7 2014


  • Affective
  • Cognitive
  • Diabetes
  • Exercise
  • Risk perception
  • Worry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Engineering(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Social Sciences(all)

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