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Self-affirmation and the processing of health-risk information.

Napper, Lucy (2005) Self-affirmation and the processing of health-risk information. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Four studies investigated the effects of self-affirmation (Steele, 1988) on the processing of health-risk information. Prior to being presented with health information, participants completed either a control or self-affirmation task focusing them on their values or strengths. Study 1 found self-affirmation promoted acceptance of the personal implications of health information targeting female students' alcohol consumption. Self-affirmed participants reported greater risk perceptions, negative affect and intentions to reduce alcohol intake. Differences were maintained up to one-month later. Study 2 describes the development of a practical self-affirmation technique, rooted in contemporary thinking about values. Using this technique, Study 3 found evidence that self-affirmation promoted orientation to threatening health information, and was associated with a reduction in an unhealthy behaviour. Self-affirmation was not found to influence effort applied to messageĀ· processing. Study 4 investigated participants' sensitivity to argument strength. Rather than self-affirmation reducing biased processing, self-affirmation was associated with less inductive processing and sensitivity to message strength. Study 5 examined whether the effects of self-affirmation were mediated by changes in processes identified by models from the fear appeal literature. Self-affirmation was found to increase intentions and behaviours aimed at adopting a healthy behaviour. Overall, three of the four studies provided evidence suggesting that affirming the self in a domain unrelated to health reduced biased processing of health information. This reduction in biased processing appeared to be associated with systematic rather than heuristic processing. The effects of self-affirmation were not mediated by a reduction in negative affect or increases in coping appraisals. Self-affirmation may have the potential as an applied technique, with evidence in the present thesis that it is associated with durable changes in persuasion, and effective for both those low and high in self-esteem. Further research is needed to establish possible moderators of the effects of self-affirmation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > Psychology (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.422132
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2019 07:48
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2019 07:48
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21793

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