Talking about health messages: The relationship between perceived complexity, processing time, and conversational intentions

Lennie Donné, John Hoeks, C. J. M. Jansen

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    Interpersonal communication has been shown to influence health campaign outcomes, but little is known about ways in which conversations can actually be elicited. In this correlational study, we tested the assumption that perceived complexity of the message can be a predictor of interpersonal communication. Forty participants were exposed to six different health messages varying in perceived complexity. The results show that the more the message was perceived as complex, the longer it took to understand it. Longer message processing times, in turn, were associated with higher intentions to talk, but only about messages that were of low personal relevance. When messages had a high personal relevance, longer processing times were associated with lower intentions to talk. Apparently, if a message is clearly relevant, longer processing due to perceived complexity is detrimental to the occurrence of interpersonal communication.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)126–144
    Number of pages19
    JournalDutch Journal of Applied Linguistics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • interpersonal communication
    • message processing
    • health campaign
    • health communication

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