Persuasive communication
Centre for Language Studies | Faculty of Arts | Radboud University Nijmegen

We are present at #ICA13

Next week (17-21 June 2013) Enny Das and Hans Hoeken are present at the conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) in London, UK. They will give a talk about their recent research (see below). Furthermore, the winner of the Health Communication Thesis Award 2013 will be announced. Our PhD Wendy Jacobs is one of the three nominees…

Hans Hoekens lecture is titled: Is being bad as bad as being guilty?

The talk is about a study of the role of character characteristics in evoking emotions in narrative persuasion. Emotions are believed to play an important role in the narrative persuasion process. The extent to which narrative can evoke emotions may depend on the extent to which people identified with the character or on the extent to which they consider the story’s outcome as (un)just. The level of identification was manipulated by influencing the main character’s likeability (Study 1) and by the extent to which the character could be held responsible for the trouble he was in (Study 2). Whereas the level of identification was affected in both studies, the perception of an unjust ending was only changed in the second study. Mediation analyses revealed that identification was mediating the impact of the culpability manipulation whereas the just outcome perception was not. The results provide further evidence for identification as an important mechanism of narrative persuasion.

Enny Das‘ first lecture is together with Jonathan van ‘t Riet. The title is: Mood and time influence defensive affect regulation following self-threatening health information: evidence at the implicit level

Although recent studies suggest that positive mood decreases defensive processing of self-threatening health information, little is known about the affect regulation processes implicated, or about interactive effects of threat and mood in the longer run. This study examined short and longer-term affect regulation and persuasion following exposure to threatening health information. 174 participants were randomly assigned to experimental conditions in a 2 (vulnerability: low vs. high) x 2 (mood: negative vs. positive) x 2 (timing of measurement: without or with delay) between participants design. Main dependent measures were implicit affect regulation, attitudes towards the message and intentions to change health behavior. Affect regulation and attitudes toward the health message showed increased defensiveness only immediately after message exposure, under conditions of high vulnerability and negative mood. Intentions to undertake healthy actions varied only as a function of vulnerability. Findings suggest that defensive responses decrease with a positive mood and with time.

Enny Das‘ second lecture is together with Tamara Bouwman. The title is: Media as shelter for the socially excluded: how mediated human artifacts help to overcome feelings of social exclusion

Apart from seeking e.g., entertainment or enjoyment, individuals may turn to media to feel less lonely or to avoid the pain of being socially disconnected. Two studies tested the assumption that exposure to mediated human artifacts – such as the mere sound of a human voice – may reduce loneliness and increase feelings of meaningful existence in socially excluded individuals. Study 1 (N=92) showed that socially excluded participants felt less lonely after listening to a pre-recorded human voice as compared to a robot voice even though they could not understand a word the voice was saying. In Study 2 (N=57), individuals preferred listening to a pre-recorded human voice over a robot voice or silence. In addition, socially excluded individuals valued their life as more meaningful after listening to a human voice. The findings provide some first evidence that listening to a human voice provides shelter for those that feel socially excluded.

Enny Das‘ third lecture is together with Anika Batenburg. The title is: The downsides of online support groups: when patients’ ability to cope with emotions matters

Due to mixed findings in research on the effects of online support group participation on psychological wellbeing, there is a need for studies explaining why and when online support groups are beneficial for cancer patients. In the current study it was expected that online support group effectiveness depends on participants’ ability to cope with emotions. 184 breast cancer patients filled out a questionnaire assessing support group participation, emotional approach coping (expression and processing), cognitive avoidance coping and psychological wellbeing. Results showed interaction effects of support group participation and coping on psychological wellbeing. Specifically, patients who actively dealt with their emotions and thoughts benefited from active participation. In contrast, patients who avoided illness related thoughts or were not apt at approaching emotions were harmed by active participation. Beneficial effects of online support group participation depend on patients’ ability to cope with emotions and thoughts regarding the illness.

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