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Cornelia Betsch, Philipp Sprengholz & Cass R. Sunstein, Health, Technology, and Genre Preferences: A Preliminary Investigation, (Oct. 26, 2021).

Abstract: Cultivation theory assumes that frequent exposure to certain media can lead people to perceive the real world through the lens of their preferred media. This led to the research question of whether fans of science fiction who are accustomed to seeing problem solving based on science and technology are prone to accept science- and technology-based interventions to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. An exploratory survey and a preregistered experiment (N = 1,983) found that participants who liked science fiction were more likely to trust science and to accept protective measures against COVID-19. This effect was especially visible for a Corona mobile-phone app but also extended to other behaviors. The effect was stronger for those whose genre preference was activated just before the behavioral intentions were assessed. Harnessing these preferences could improve health communication and may be useful in solving health crises, such as pandemics or the climate crisis.