The influence of prior knowledge structures on website attitudes and behavioral intentions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • Newcastle University
  • Queen Mary University of London


The Persuasion Knowledge Model identifies three knowledge structures (i.e., topic knowledge, persuasion knowledge and agent knowledge) that an individual has prior to exposure to a persuasive attempt. This study extends these knowledge structures by distinguishing between objective and subjective topic knowledge conceptualizations. Specifically, this study examines empirically how an individual's different knowledge structures, held prior to exposure to a web-based intervention, influence subsequent website attitudes and behavioral intentions. The UK's National Health Service (NHS) Live Well website relevant to weight control is used as the web-based intervention in this study. Results suggest that agent (i.e., NHS) knowledge is the most important predictor of website attitudes, while both agent and persuasion knowledge are associated with behavioral intentions to take weight control actions. The results also reveal that the distinction between objective and subjective weight control knowledge is essential given their differential effects on agent and persuasion knowledge. Goal frames, as indicated by the choice between the “healthy eating” and “lose weight” Live Well intervention web pages, are found to moderate the identified Knowledge-Attitude-Behavior links. Theoretical contributions, implications for practice and public policy and future research directions are discussed.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-58
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Early online date19 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • Website attitudes, Behavioral intentions, Objective topic knowledge, Subjective topic knowledge, Persuasion knowledge, Agent knowledge