Perspective-taking and Responses to Narrative Health Campaigns
Weston, Dale Alexander
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis has an 18 month embargo on it
Reason for embargo
I intend to publish research papers from my PhD work.
This thesis is concerned with the health-related effects of perspective-taking in response to a narrative health campaign. To begin, the thesis outlines the health promotion strategies currently in use (i.e., statistical vs. narrative), presents research discussing their relative effectiveness, and considers the potential for perspective-taking to influence the impact of narrative health campaigns (Chapter 1). The thesis then defines two types of perspective-taking, cognitive and emotional, and explores the processes underlying these (Chapter 2). Each type of perspective-taking is then considered in the context of the health promotion literature (Chapter 3). It was proposed that, whereas cognitive perspective-taking should have a relatively straightforward and positive effect on the impact of narrative health campaigns, the effects of emotional perspective-taking should be more variable. Seven studies were conducted to test this basic premise and identify mediators and moderators of the observed effects. In Chapter 4, two studies are presented that aim to establish the effects of perspective-taking on health-related outcomes (Studies 1 & 2). A broadly consistent pattern was observed across these studies: encouraging cognitive perspective-taking led to more positive health-related outcomes than did encouraging emotional perspective-taking. Having established the basic effect, two studies are presented in Chapter 5 that explore a potential mediator: perspective-takers’ self-efficacy concerning a health promoting behaviour (chlamydia testing: Studies 3 & 4). These studies found a consistent indirect effect of perspective-taking on intentions to get tested for chlamydia through self-efficacy: encouraging cognitive perspective-taking increased participants’ perceived self-efficacy relative to encouraging emotional perspective-taking, which in turn positively predicted intentions to get tested in the future. The three studies presented in Chapter 6 explore potential moderators of the effects of perspective-taking (Studies 5-7). Specifically, these studies test whether the relative effects of perspective-taking are moderated by features of the relationship between the perspective-taker and a target presented in a narrative health campaign. The broad pattern observed across these studies suggests that the perception of a shared categorisation (or social identity) between the perspective-taker and target moderates the effect of perspective-taking on health-related outcomes. Specifically, the final study, Study 7, demonstrated that encouraging cognitive perspective-taking in response to a narrative health campaign leads to more positive health-related effects than encouraging emotional perspective-taking when perspective-takers’ personal (unshared) identity is made salient; however, these effects are attenuated (and potentially even reversed) when a social (or shared) identity is made salient. Considered as a whole, the research presented in this thesis represents the first empirical examination of the relative health-related effects of different types of perspective-taking in response to a narrative health campaign. The research demonstrates that perspective-taking is an important factor in determining whether or not narrative health promotion campaigns are likely to be effective. However, it also makes clear that the processes through, and conditions under, which cognitive and emotional perspective-taking can help to ensure the effectiveness of narrative health campaigns are not yet fully understood. Nevertheless, the studies presented herein successfully identify several such conditions and mechanisms ready for further study. Theoretical and practical implications, alongside limitations and more specific suggestions for further research are discussed.
PhD in Psychology