An evaluation of warning habits and beliefs across the adult life span

Holly E. Hancock, Wendy A. Rogers, Arthur D. Fisk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Beliefs about warnings and habits associated with reading them were assessed for 863 individuals of various ages. Information gathered for various common household products included (a) how frequently people attend to warning information, (b) the degree of risk they believe is involved during product usage, and (c) how important they believe warnings are for different product types. Also assessed were perceived helpfulness and comprehension for symbols commonly found on product labels or on signs in the environment. Respondents 55 years and older reported reading product warnings more frequently than did younger adults, although they generally perceived warnings as less important. However, no overall age-related differences were found for perceived level of risk involved in using different product types. Although older adults generally perceived symbols to be very helpful when using a particular product, their comprehension levels were poorer than those of younger adults for half of the symbols. Overall, these data suggest that adults of all ages do read warnings on a variety of product types and that they believe warning information is important. This research illustrates the importance of including older adults in usability studies during the development of warning systems, given age-related effects may be associated with some aspects of the warning processing but not others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-354
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'An evaluation of warning habits and beliefs across the adult life span'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this