Steven Hentges, Ph.D
Monday, April 23, 2018
It’s no secret that we’re all exposed to BPA.  From extensive research conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others, we even know how much BPA we are exposed to from our diets and consumer products that we use every day.
But now we also know, as consumers, that we don’t need to be concerned about the typical low levels of exposure to BPA that we experience.  Just a few weeks ago, the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) released a report on the largest study ever conducted on BPA.  The results of the so-called CLARITY Core study, which was conducted by senior scientists with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), demonstrate that BPA has very little potential to harm us even when we are exposed to it throughout our lives.
The results are of such significance that FDA promptly informed us of the results with a public statement.  In the statement, FDA noted that “our initial review supports our determination that currently authorized uses of BPA continue to be safe for consumers.”
Now that we have this information, what should we do with it?  In particular should we share it with our friends and family?  
The way that we decide what information of this type to share and what not to share was explored in a study recently published in the International Journal of Research in Marketing.  The researchers, from universities in The Netherlands and Turkey, focused on how self-construal and self-relevance affect if – and how – we share either positive or negative information about the potential for a product to harm us.
The researchers conducted a series of controlled studies with student volunteers at a Western European university.  In each of the studies, the students were first given positive or negative information about a product, and then monitored in various ways to assess their likelihood to share the information.  One of the controlled studies involved product information related to BPA.
One factor that influenced whether information was likely to be shared involves the concept of self-relevance.  In particular, was the information relevant to the student or friends and family?
A second factor involves the concept of self-construal.  In particular, did the students view themselves as independent or interdependent in their relationships with other people?  In other words, did the students think of themselves as individuals or as members of a group?
Both of these factors had an influence on whether positive or negative product harm information was likely to be shared.  Information is more likely to be shared if it is self-relevant and the person receiving the information views their relationship with others as interdependent.
The study examined factors that influence information sharing but did not make recommendations on when information should be shared.  In this case, the important new information on the potential for BPA to cause harm is certainly self-relevant, since we know that we are exposed to trace levels of BPA and potentially at risk.  
For the same reason the information is relevant to our friends and family.  So what will you do with this important new information on the potential for BPA to cause harm?  According to the findings of the study, feel free to share.