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Political values influence people's response to health disparities messages
Date:2/10/2014

PHILADELPHIA (February 10, 2014) Policymakers and advocates discussing health disparities in the United States would be wise to consider the political affiliation of their audience, suggests a new study published in the Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives (2014).

"Understanding Public Resistance to Messages about Health Disparities" was written by Sarah E. Gollust, University of Minnesota School of Public Health; and Joseph N. Cappella, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. The study examines how political values influence public response to messages about health disparities differences across groups in health indicators such as insurance coverage, mortality, illness, and risky behaviors.

"Conventional wisdom seems to be that enumerating health disparities will increase public awareness, which will lead to support for policy actions to ameliorate these disparities," Dr. Gollust says. "Yet previous research suggested we should question this assumption. Since liberals and conservatives often differ in their underlying beliefs about the causes of group differences, we thought they might respond differently to discussion about the causes of health differences."

Political values shape how people perceive and react to information. "People are motivated to perceive the strength and credibility of messages in accordance with their predisposing beliefs and values," the authors write. "Persuasive message[s] may arouse a motivation, called reactance, to resist the advocacy, particularly when a message threatens an individual's sense of freedom."

In their study, the scholars suggest that health communication messages that challenge or threaten notions of personal responsibility may activate reactance motivations, especially among subgroups that hold this value more highly. They examined responses to four messages abo
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Contact: Joseph J. Diorio
jdiorio@asc.upenn.edu
215-746-1798
University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication
Source:Eurekalert  

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