Calibrating the response to health warnings: limiting both overreaction and underreaction with self-affirmation

Griffin, Dale W. and Harris, Peter R. (2011) Calibrating the response to health warnings: limiting both overreaction and underreaction with self-affirmation. Psychological Science, 22 (5). pp. 572-578. ISSN 0956-7976

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Abstract

Self-affirmation, reflecting on one’s defining personal values, increases acceptance of threatening information, but does it do so at the cost of inducing undue alarm in people at low risk of harm? We contrast an alarm model, wherein self-affirmation simply increases response to threat, with a calibration model, wherein self-affirmation increases sensitivity to the self-relevance of health-risk information. Female seafood consumers (N = 165) completed a values self-affirmation or control task before reading a U.S. Food and Drug Administration brochure on mercury in seafood. Findings support the calibration model: Among frequent seafood consumers, self-affirmation generally increased concern (reports of depth of thought, personal message relevance, perceived risk, and negative affect) for those high in defensiveness and reduced it for those low in defensiveness. Among infrequent consumers of seafood, self-affirmation typically reduced concern. Thus, self-affirmation increased the sensitivity with which women at different levels of risk, and at different levels of defensiveness, responded cognitively and affectively to the materials.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
Depositing User: Lene Hyltoft
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2012 15:02
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2013 10:54
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/42620
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