Narratives have been proven to be an effective means by which people are persuaded. However, the exact psychological mechanism(s) that is/are responsible for persuasion have been debated. Some argue the process of transportation is necessary in determining whether or not the persuasive message will succeed (e.g., Green & Brock, 2000; Green & Clark, 2013; Murphy et al., 2011). Others have found character involvement to influence attitudes (Banerjee & Greene, 2012; de Graaf, Hoeken, Sanders, & Beentjes, 2011; Igartua & Barrios, 2012), behavioral intentions, and actual behaviors in the context of narratives (Moyer-Gusé, Chung, & Jain, 2011). Other say it is a combination of psychological mechanisms that is responsible for attitudes message consistent and behavioral intentions (Slater & Rouner, 2002). Theories such as the entertainment overcoming resistance model (EORM) posit that narratives reduce consumers’ reactance, which then makes persuasion possible. This dissertation draws upon theories in both reactance (psychological reactance theory (PRT)) and narrative persuasion literature (EORM) in order to fulfill three objectives. First, this work uniquely identifies and distinguishes the role(s) transportation, character involvement, and/or emotional involvement play(s) in overcoming reactance. Second, this work distinguishes between perceived threat to freedom and reactance – a mediated process yet to be studied in narrative persuasion literature. Last, this dissertation explores the influence of reactance proneness as a moderating variable in the context of narratives. Results suggest a model that explains the relationship amongst the three psychological mechanisms and adds to reactance literature. Reactance was found to have direct effect on persuasion, though it is not a mediator of perceived threat and persuasion (as has been suggested in most PRT studies). Last, reactance proneness was, indeed, a moderating variable of the relationship between perceived threat and reactance. Suggestions for future studies in the area of reactance and narrative persuasion are offered.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2017. Major: Mass Communication. Advisors: Daniel Wackman, Marco Yzer. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 173 pages.
Happily Ever Persuaded? A look at the influence of character involvement, transportation, and emotion on perceived threat, reactance, and persuasion.
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