Understanding individual psychological and behavioral responses during COVID-19: Application of stimulus-organism-response model
|Year of publication
|Article in Periodical
|Magazine / Source
|Telematics and Informatics
|MU Faculty or unit
|Cyberchondria; Information seeking; Information providing; Information overload; Crisis; Fear; COVID-19
|To comprehend the nature, implications, risks and consequences of the events of the COVID-19 crisis, individuals largely relied on various online information sources. The features of online information exchange (e.g., conducted on a massive scale, with an abundance of information and unverified sources) led to various behavioral and psychological responses that are not fully un-derstood. This study therefore investigated the relationship between exposure to online infor-mation sources and how individuals sought, forwarded, and provided COVID-19 related information. Anchored in the stimulus-organism-response model, cognitive load theory, and the theory of fear appeal, this study examined the link between the online consumption of COVID-19-related information and psychological and behavioral responses. In the theory development process, we hypothesized the moderating role of levels of fear. The research model included six hypotheses and was empirically verified on self-reported data (N = 425), which was collected in early 2021. The results indicate that continuous exposure to online information sources led to perceived information overload, which further heightened the psychological state of cyber-chondria. Moreover, the act of seeking and providing COVID-19 information was significantly predicted by perceived cyberchondria. The results also suggest that higher levels of fear led to increased levels of seeking and providing COVID-19-related information. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are presented, along with promising areas for future research.