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

ut socioeconomic health disparities, tested political differences in response, and evaluated the extent to which these differences can be explained by differences in two related values economic individualism and personal responsibility.

Each message began with a two-sentence statement indicating that people "living in poverty" have "higher rates of disease and lower life expectancy" than wealthier individuals, and specifying a six-year gap in life expectancy between groups. The sentences that followed provided four (randomly assigned) causal explanations for the socioeconomic differences in health:

  • The typical social determinants message concluded that social factors are the most important causes of those health differences.
  • The acknowledged choices message similarly emphasized social factors as most important but acknowledged that personal responsibility plays a role.
  • The universal message emphasized that social factors are the most important and affect everyone throughout the income distribution, including the middle class.
  • And in contrast with the three messages that emphasized social factors, the personal responsibility only message emphasized behavioral choices and personal responsibility as the most important determinant of health differences.

Among the three social determinants messages, respondents evaluated the typical message as significantly stronger. The universal message aroused the most anger, significantly more than the message that acknowledged choices, which aroused the least anger among the three social determinants messages. The three social determinant messages aroused counter-arguing equally, among about one-fourth of the sample. In contrast, the message attributing disparities entirely to personal responsibility aroused counter-arguing among more than half the sample, significantly more than the social determinants messages.

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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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