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Self-affirmation and the biased processing of threatening health-risk information

Harris, P.R. and Napper, L. (2005) Self-affirmation and the biased processing of threatening health-risk information. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31 (9). pp. 1250-1263. ISSN 0146-1672

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Self-affirming before reading about the link between alcohol and breast cancer promoted increased message acceptance among young women at higher risk. Differences were maintained on variables measured up to 1 month later Relative to their nonaffirmed counterparts, higher risk, self-affirmed participants had higher ratings of risk, imagination, intention to reduce alcohol consumption, and negative affect, such as fear, while reading the leaflet. In contrast, there were no differences between the groups on measures of broader message acceptance (belief in the link, evidence strength). Thus, self-affirmation promoted acceptance of the personal relevance of the message, a critical step in the precaution adoption process. Overall, the findings support the view that self-affirmation in an unrelated domain can offset defensive processing of a threatening health message, promoting central route persuasion and producing consequential and durable increases in message acceptance.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: self-affirmation; defensive processing; perceived risk; optimistic bias; persuasion
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > Department of Psychology (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Miss Anthea Tucker
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2009 09:10
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2009 09:10
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0146167205274694
Status: Published
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Identification Number: 10.1177/0146167205274694
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9853

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