Imagery Processes, Risk Perceptions, and Health Communications

Our research group is developing new measures for assessing conceptual and imagery contents of mental representations of health threats. Using a recently developed measure, the Assessment of Illness Risk Representations (AIRR; Cameron, 2008), we are conducting a series of studies to gain new insights into how individuals mentally represent their risk for specific illnesses and the types of mental images associated with their risk. One research project used the AIRR to evaluate representations of skin cancer risk and demonstrated that mental images relating to skin cancer uniquely influence motivations to engage in sun protection and cancer detection behaviors (Cameron, 2008). These findings have important implications for using imagery in health communications aimed at promoting protective actions.

Selected references:
Cameron, L. D. (2009). Can our health behavior models handle imagery-based processes and communications? The European Health Psychologist, 11, 56-58.
Williams, B., & Cameron, L. (2009). Images in health care: Potential and problems. Journal of Health Services Research and Policy, 14, 251-254.
Cameron, L. D. (2008). Illness risk representations and motivations to engage in protective behavior: The case of skin cancer risk. Psychology and Health, 23, 91-112.
Cameron, L. D., & Chan, C. K. Y. (2008). Designing health communications: Harnessing the power of affect, imagery, and self-regulation. Personality and Social Psychology Compass, 2, 262-282.