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Proceedings of the 2nd ISESSAH conference 2018

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Front. Vet. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fvets.2019.00156

Message delivery method, information certainty and infection risk influence willingness to comply with biosecurity in livestock facilities: evidence from experimental simulations

 Scott C. Merrill1*,  Susan Moegenburg1, Christopher J. Koliba2, Asim Zia2, Luke Trinity3,  Eric Clark4,  Gabriela Bucini1, Serge Wiltshire5,  Timothy Sellnow6,  Deanna Sellnow6 and  Julia M. Smith7
  • 1Department of Plant and Soil Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Vermont, United States
  • 2Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Vermont, United States
  • 3Department of Mathematics and Statistics, College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, University of Vermont, United States
  • 4Vermont Complex Systems Center, University of Vermont, United States
  • 5Department of Food Systems, University of Vermont, United States
  • 6Nicholson School of Communication, University of Central Florida, United States
  • 7Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Vermont, United States

Disease in U.S. animal livestock industries annually costs over a billion dollars. Adoption and compliance with biosecurity practices is necessary to successfully reduce the risk of disease introduction or spread. Yet, a variety of human behaviors, such as the urge to minimize time costs, may induce non-compliance with biosecurity practices. Utilizing a “serious gaming” approach, we examine the how information about infection risk impacts compliance with biosecurity practices. We sought to understand how simulated environments affected compliance behavior with treatments that varied using three factors: 1) The risk of acquiring an infection, 2) the delivery method of the infection risk message (numerical, linguistic and graphical), and 3) by the certainty of the infection risk information. Here we show that compliance is influenced by message delivery methodology, with numeric, linguistic, and graphical messages showing increasing efficacy, respectively. Moreover, increased situational uncertainty and increased risk were correlated with increases in compliance behavior. These results provide insight towards developing messages that are more effective and provide tools that will allow managers of livestock facilities and policy makers to nudge behavior towards more disease resilient systems via greater compliance with biosecurity practices.

Keywords: Compliance, uncertainty, Graphical message, Linguistic phrase, Numeric message, psychological distance, biosecurity, risk

Received: 04 Jan 2019; Accepted: 07 May 2019.

Edited by:

Bouda Vosough Ahmadi, European Commission for the Control of Foot and Mouth Disease (EuFMD), Italy

Reviewed by:

Howard H. Erickson, Kansas State University, United States
Alyson S. Barratt, Scotland's Rural College, United Kingdom
Shailesh Shrestha, Scotland's Rural College, United Kingdom  

Copyright: © 2019 Merrill, Moegenburg, Koliba, Zia, Trinity, Clark, Bucini, Wiltshire, Sellnow, Sellnow and Smith. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Scott C. Merrill, Department of Plant and Soil Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Vermont, Burlington, 05405, Vermont, United States,