The purpose of this study is to expand research on persuasion 1) by examining psychological reactance as a function of threats to positive identity above and beyond threats to freedom and 2) by examining the role of positive emotions.
An online survey recruited 478 students from undergraduate courses at several universities in the U.S. The study included a 2 (high threat to positive identity vs. low threat to positive identity) X 2 (high threat to freedom vs. low threat to freedom) X 2 (positivity vs. none) with 2 topics (exercise and meditation) mixed design and participants were randomly presented with one of 16 survey types. The "working out" study advocated participation in a weekly exercise routine and the "stress relief" study encouraged practicing meditation for general mental/physical health.
One major contribution of this study is that this study extended the Theory of Psychological Reactance by incorporating the notion of threats to identity based on the Politeness Theory. It was found that a perceived threat to identity led psychological reactance and had direct influences on persuasive outcome. This study also highlighted the importance of studying curiosity and hope, which played key roles in mitigating psychological reactance and in promoting persuasion. Empirical tests of three major variables - identity threat, curiosity, and hope - that this study used were novel approaches in persuasion field and the findings demonstrated their promising roles in persuasion.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. February 2013. Major: Communication studies. Advisor: Ascan Koerner. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 148 pages, appendices A-E.
The role of reactance and positive emotions in persuasive health messages: refining the theory of psychological reactance and the politeness theory and testing the theories of positive emotions.
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