Attentional effects of self-affirmation in response to graphic anti-smoking images

Kessels, Loes T E, Harris, Peter R, Ruiter, Robert A C and Klein, William M P (2016) Attentional effects of self-affirmation in response to graphic anti-smoking images. Health Psychology, 35 (8). pp. 891-897. ISSN 0278-6133

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Abstract

Objective
Self-affirmation has been shown to reduce defensive responding to threatening information. However, little is known about the cognitive and attentional processes underlying these effects. In the current eye-movement study we explored whether self-affirmation affects attention allocation (i.e., number of fixations) among those for whom a threatening health message is self-relevant.

Methods
After a self-affirmation manipulation, 47 smokers and 52 non-smokers viewed a series of cigarette packs displaying high or low threat smoking-related images accompanied by a brief smoking message containing risk, coping or neutral textual information.

Results
Self-affirmed smokers made more fixations to the cigarette packs than did non-affirmed smokers (across both high and low threat images), whereas self-affirmed non-smokers made fewer fixations to the cigarette packs than did non-affirmed non-smokers (again across both image types). The textual information did not moderate responses.

Conclusions
Findings indicate attention-increasing effects of self-affirmation among those for whom the information is self-relevant (smokers) and attention-decreasing effects of self-affirmation among those for whom the information is not self-relevant (non-smokers). Such findings are consistent with the calibration model of self-affirmation (Griffin & Harris, 2011) in which self-affirmation increases sensitivity to the self-relevance of health-risk information. The use of an implicit measure of visual orienting informs our understanding of the working mechanisms of self-affirmation when encoding health information, and may also hold practical implications for the design and delivery of graphic warning labels.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
Depositing User: Lene Hyltoft
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2016 15:48
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2017 06:09
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/61425

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