Preparations for Y2K: Revisiting the behavioral component of the third-person effect

David Tewksbury, Patricia Moy, Deborah S. Weis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the behavioral component was an integral part of the original formulation of the third-person effect hypothesis, little research has examined the impact of biased media effect perceptions on behaviors that assume others have already been affected. The present study examines how third-person perceptions (the belief that otber people are particularly vulnerable to media messages) contributed to intentions to prepare for problems stemming from Y2K, also known as the "millennium bag." Analyses using data from 2 regional probability samples taken in late 1999 show that perceptions about the potential effects of news messages influenced public anxiety about the Y2K situation and beliefs that otber people would overprepare for the new year. These 2 variables, in turn, predicted intentions to stockpile supplies of food, water, gasoline, and cash. The article discusses the implications of these findings for understanding the relationship between perceptions of media effects and an extended range of behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-155
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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