Background: Although much work addresses the association between risk perceptions and behavior, much less attention has been devoted to identifying psychosocial and sociodemographic moderators of this relationship.
Purpose: We explored whether worry moderates the relationship between risk perceptions and behavioral intentions in an adult sample (where the relationship is typically positive) and a young adult sample (where we have found that the relationship can be negative).
Method: Two samples of smokers (adults and college students) were asked to report worry, risk perceptions, and quitting intentions as part of two cessation interventions.
Results: Among low-worry individuals, the risk perception/intentions relationship was positive in the adult sample and negative in the young adult sample. However, among high-worry individuals, the relationship was negative in the adult sample (and nonsignificant in the young adult sample).
Conclusions: These findings suggest that worry can moderate the extent to which risk perceptions motivate risk-related intentions and that the nature of such moderation may depend on other factors such as age.