This study tests whether policy narratives designed to increase support for obesity-reducing public policies should explicitly acknowledge individual responsibility while emphasizing social, physical, and economic (social) determinants of obesity. We use a web-based, randomized experiment with a nationally representative sample of American adults (n = 718) to test hypotheses derived from theory and research on narrative persuasion. Respondents exposed to narratives that acknowledged individual responsibility while emphasizing obesity’s social determinants were less likely to engage in counterargument and felt more empathy for the story’s main character than those exposed to a message that did not acknowledge individual responsibility. Counterarguing and affective empathy fully mediated the relationship between message condition and support for policies to reduce rates of obesity. Failure to acknowledge individual responsibility in narratives emphasizing social determinants of obesity may undermine the persuasiveness of policy narratives. Omitting information about individual responsibility, a strongly-held American value, invites the public to engage in counterargument about the narratives and reduces feelings of empathy for a character that experiences the challenges and benefits of social determinants of obesity.
controlled study, empathy, female, interpersonal communication, male, obesity, policy, social behavior, social determinants of health, social support, United States, health care policy, obesity
Business and Corporate Communications | Health Policy | Social Influence and Political Communication
Public Library of Science
NIEDERDEPPE, Jeff; Sungjong ROH; and SHAPIRO, Michael A..
Acknowledging individual responsibility while emphasizing social determinants in narratives to promote obesity-reducing public policy: A randomized experiment. (2015). PLoS ONE. 10, (2), e0117565-1-11. Research Collection Lee Kong Chian School Of Business.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/lkcsb_research/4848
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