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Exploring the effect of narrative health information and the moderating role of systematic processing on the impact of self-affirmation

Self-affirmation shows promise as a technique for promoting more open-minded responding to health-risk information. However, studies to date have largely ignored a prevalent type of health information: experiential or narrative information. The aims of this research programme were therefore to (1) examine whether self-affirmation would promote more open-minded responding to narrative information and (2) test individual differences in systematic processing as a potential moderator. Chapter 2, Study 1 (N = 52) found that self-affirmation encouraged less derogation and counter-arguing in response to a narrative leaflet detailing the risks of alcohol consumption. Low systematic processors reported consuming significantly less alcohol at follow-up, despite initially reporting lower risk perceptions. In Study 2 (N = 67), self-affirmation produced mixed effects on outcomes. Moderation analyses showed that those low in systematic processing reported lower personal relevance and negative affect following the message, and evidence of less engagement with the narrative (lower reported attention to the narrative and less perspective taking), when self-affirmed. In the study reported in Chapter 3 (N = 142), after viewing a narrative video outlining the risks of alcohol consumption, self-affirmed participants reported consuming significantly less alcohol at follow-up. Self-affirmed participants also engaged in more open-minded responding (e.g., evidence of more message acceptance) to the health information, which was mediated by narrative engagement. Systematic processing did not moderate any effects. In Chapter 4, Study 1 (N = 157) a graphic narrative about the benefits of exercise was no more effective in changing outcomes than a non-narrative version of the same information. In Study 2 (N =71), the few effects of self-affirmation were typically moderated by systematic processing. Chapter 5 (N = 197) examined the impact of self-affirmation on a real health campaign that uses narrative formats to present information: Dry January. Again systematic processing typically moderated the effects of self-affirmation. On balance, the research programme provides some evidence that self-affirmation can promote more open-minded responding to narrative information. However, those low in systematic processing tended to show less persuasion when self-affirmed.
Date January 2017
CreatorsFox, Kerry Jane
PublisherUniversity of Sussex
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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