Message fatigue: Conceptual definition, operationalization, and correlates

Jiyeon So, Soela Kim, Heather Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Despite growing concern over the public’s fatigue toward inundated health messages, communication research has largely neglected such ramifications of prolonged, real-life campaign exposure. This paper offers an initial conceptual and empirical treatment of message fatigue, an important, but understudied, side effect of campaigns. Specifically, it proposes conceptual and operational definitions of the construct and examines psychometric characteristics of a proposed message fatigue scale. The findings from two studies concerning safe sex (N = 412) and anti-obesity messages (N = 396) demonstrated solid support for the scale’s unidimensionality. In support of construct validity, the scale exhibited significant associations with message avoidance, annoyance, information seeking, and desensitization. Moreover, in an experimental setting in Study 2, message fatigue negatively predicted attention and message elaboration, while positively predicting counterargument.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-29
Number of pages25
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 2

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the University of Georgia Research Foundation [grant number 2964].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 National Communication Association.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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