Self-Affirmation on Increasing Message Acceptance about Consequences of Meat Consumption
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Self-affirmation methods have been commonly used to reduce reactance to potentially threatening health information, but far less focus has been given to other threatening outcomes. The current study examined the effect of a self-affirmation writing activity on subsequent acceptance of messages about either the health or environmental consequences of eating meat. In Fall 2016, participants (N = 181; 81.2% female) from WSU Pullman completed an online study. Using a 2 (self-affirmation) X 2 (message type) design, participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions. Participants either completed a self-affirmation writing activity or a control, non-affirmation writing activity. Then, after reading either a health or environmental message about meat consumption, participants' message reactance was evaluated by assessing negative cognitions and emotions elicited from the warnings, along with their message advocacy (i.e. agreement with the message). They also indicated their intentions to change future eating behavior. We anticipated that those who self-affirmed prior to message exposure would experience less reactance, greater message advocacy, and report greater intentions to change compared to those who did not first self-affirm. Further, we also anticipated that reactance to health messages would be greater than reactance to environmental messages. Opposite to anticipations, there were no significant differences between self-affirmed and non-affirmed conditions. However, the environmental messages elicited more negative cognitive and emotional reactance than health messages. Given the considerable support for self-affirmationon reducing reactance to threatening information, these findings call into question the use of self affirmation in an online setting.