Self-affirmation enhances attentional bias toward threatening components of a persuasive message

Klein, William M. P. and Harris, Peter R. (2009) Self-affirmation enhances attentional bias toward threatening components of a persuasive message. Psychological Science, 20 (12). pp. 1463-1467. ISSN 1467-9280

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Abstract

We explored whether self-affirmation enhances attentional bias toward threatening elements of a persuasive message. Female alcohol consumers read an article linking alcohol to breast cancer and were then exposed supraliminally to threat and nonthreat words from the article (as well as threat and nonthreat words that did not appear in the article). Among moderately heavy drinkers who were not self-affirmed, there emerged an attentional bias away from the threatening words in the article-a result suggesting an avoidant response. However, among moderately heavy drinkers who were self-affirmed, there was a bias toward the threatening words. No attentional biases appeared for threat words not in the message, which suggested that the effect was threat specific. Moreover, no attentional biases were found among the heaviest drinkers. Self-affirmation may facilitate targeted implicit processing of threatening messages, although the effects could attenuate among individuals engaging in high levels of the behavior featured in the message.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
Depositing User: Lene Hyltoft
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2012 14:52
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2013 15:29
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/42624
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