Morality or competence? The importance of affirming the appropriate dimension of self-integrity

Jessop, Donna, Sparks, Paul, Jessop, Laura, Dodds, Lauren and Lynch, Sarah (2016) Morality or competence? The importance of affirming the appropriate dimension of self-integrity. British Journal of Health Psychology, 21 (4). pp. 956-972. ISSN 1359-107X

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Objectives: Two studies explored the relative efficacy of a morality-based versus a competence-based self-affirmation manipulation at increasing acceptance of personally relevant health-risk information. In accordance with prior theorising (e.g., Cohen & Sherman, 2014), it was hypothesized that the morality affirmation would be more effective than the competence affirmation in such contexts, as the former targets a different domain to that threatened by the health-risk information.

Design: Both studies employed a cross-sectional experimental design.

Methods: Participants were presented with a morality affirmation, competence affirmation or no affirmation control prior to reading a message about the risks of (a) not engaging in daily dental flossing (Study 1) and (b) red meat consumption (Study 2). Participants subsequently completed a number of measures assessing acceptance of the message.

Results: In line with predictions, findings from both studies demonstrated that the morality affirmation precipitated greater acceptance of personally relevant health-risk information compared to the competence affirmation, as reflected in more positive attitudes (Studies 1 and 2) and intentions (Study 1). Study 2’s findings further suggested that the superior efficacy of the morality affirmation in health-related contexts could not simply be attributed to a general tendency for this affirmation to outperform the competence affirmation.

Conclusions: The nature of the value affirmed may be a critical factor in determining the success of self-affirmation manipulations in health-related domains.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: self-affirmation; values; morality; competence; health-risk information; dental flossing; red meat consumption
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
Depositing User: Lene Hyltoft
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2016 07:39
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 19:19

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