Self-affirmation before exposure to health communications promotes intentions and health behavior change by increasing anticipated regret


Health-risk information can elicit negative emotions like anticipated regret that may positively affect health persuasion. The beneficial impact of such emotions is undermined when target audiences respond defensively to the threatening information. We tested whether self-affirming (reflecting on cherished attributes) before message exposure can be used as strategy to enhance the experience of anticipated regret. Women were self-affirmed or not before exposure to a message promoting fruit and vegetable consumption. Self-affirmation increased anticipated regret and intentions reported following message exposure and consumption in the week after the intervention; regret mediated the affirmation effect on intentions. Moreover, results suggest that anticipated regret and intentions are serial mediators linking self-affirmation and behavior. By demonstrating the mediating role of anticipated regret, we provide insights into how self-affirmation may promote healthy intentions and behavior following health message exposure. Self-affirmation techniques could thus potentially be used to increase the effectiveness of health communication efforts.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences
College of Health & Life Sciences > Chronic and Communicable Conditions
Additional Information: -
Uncontrolled Keywords: anticipated regret,health behavior,health communication,persuasion,self-affirmation,Language and Linguistics,Communication,Linguistics and Language
Publication ISSN: 1552-3810
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2024 07:19
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2016 13:50
Full Text Link: http://crx.sage ... 8/1027.abstract
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2016-12
Published Online Date: 2014-10-28
Accepted Date: 2014-10-27
Authors: van Koningsbruggen, Guido M.
Harris, Peter R.
Smits, Anjès J.
Schüz, Benjamin
Scholz, Urte
Cooke, Richard (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-0476-6284)



Version: Accepted Version

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