Overcoming Resistance To Health Persuasion: Strategies To Reduce Self-Defense Motives
Kim, Hye Kyung
This dissertation addresses audience members' motivation to protect the self-concept from a potential threat, which is a critical element in deterring health persuasion. Guided by theories and research in social psychology and communication, this dissertation examines the efficacy of three intervention strategies at overcoming resistance based on self-defense motives: (1) self-affirmation, (2) value-expressive message framing, and (3) narrative persuasion. Although these strategies are rooted in different theoretical backgrounds and mechanisms, they have in common as a subtle form of persuasion strategies that indirectly address resistance. This dissertation identifies potential sources of self-threat, treating them as individual difference factors, and investigates their interplay with different combinations of intervention strategies on producing persuasive outcomes. Studies, divided into three chapters, are designed to specify for whom and through which mechanisms each intervention strategy is likely to persuade. Chapter III investigates the efficacy of value-expressive message framing and self-affirmation at reducing the influence of attitudes serving an ego-defensive function in the context of psychiatric help-seeking. Chapter IV examines the efficacy of health narratives at increasing perceived risk in the context of study drug use without a prescription. Chapter V examines the relative efficacy of narratives (vs. informational messages) with or without self-affirmation at correcting a mistaken risk perception about heavy episodic drinking. The extent to which individuals respond defensively to health messages varies by their personal values and motivational goals, personal experiences, and the accuracy of their risk perception. The proposed intervention strategies can reduce the influence of these factors, independently or complementally with another, therefore improving health persuasion. Self-affirmation and value-expressive message framing can enhance persuasion by removing the need for self-defense or redefining a health behavior in a way that enhances audiences' positive self-image. Narratives also have the capacity to reduce defensive resistance among those with negative story-congruent memories and unrealistic optimism through the mechanisms that involve the loss of self-awareness. Theoretically, this dissertation clarifies research on the mechanisms of narrative persuasion and the utility of value-expressive attitude function in health communication. This dissertation also provides practitioners with an expanded kit of persuasion tools for encouraging self-improvements in health.
Health Communication; Self-Defense; Persuasion
Niederdeppe, Jeffrey D. H.
Dunning, David Alan; Shapiro, Michael A; McComas, Katherine Anne
Ph. D., Communication
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis