Section 51
Chapter 50,275

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

Harris, P.R.; Napper, L.

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 31(9): 1250-1263


ISSN/ISBN: 0146-1672
PMID: 16055644
DOI: 10.1177/0146167205274694
Accession: 050274444

Download citation:  

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.

PDF emailed within 0-6 h: $19.90