Self-affirmation research suggests that affirming important values can reduce defensive responses to threatening information. However, whether this holds in the context of information about the life sciences is not clear. Integrating self-affirmation and values drawn from science communication research, the objective was to better understand core values associated with hESC research and to exclude these values from a subsequent self-affirmation intervention focusing on information about hESC research; and to test the hypothesis that self-affirming a value unrelated to hESC research would reduce defensive processing of information about it. Data were obtained from a pretest study survey and a main study experiment. In the pretest study (n = 315), several values were found to correlate with a favorable view of hESC research, but not opposition to it, since the sample was primarily individuals with a favorable view. A new list of values was thus adopted for the main study, which focused specifically on individuals opposed to hESC research. The main study (n = 113) showed that affirming a value unrelated to hESC research does not reduce defensive processing of information about it. The implications of these findings for science communication are discussed.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. 2020. Major: Mass Communication. Advisor: Rebekah Nagler. 1 computer file (PDF); 97 pages.
Self-affirming values: Defensive processing of information about human embryonic stem-cell (hESC) research.
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