Interactive media minimize reactance to health messages and improve probability of embracing health advice

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People frequently react negatively to health messages since they will, on the whole, direct what they can and cannot do. New research unveils that interactive media can decrease negative emotions or reactance to online health messaging.

Penn State and Stony Brook University researchers discovered in a study that website indicators that provide prompt around content material or bandwagon cues, as well as tools that allow users to address content, reduced reactance to health/wellness messages and sped up the potential outcomes of embracing the health suggestion introduced within the message.

Interactive media technologies, according to experts, may offer pristine approaches for health communicators to generate content that encourages people while sidestepping reactance.

The first writer of the research, Ruobing Li, assistant professor of communications and journalism, Stony Brook University, stated, “As human beings, we love the freedom of action, we love to choose what to do and how to do it. But whenever freedom of action is limited or threatened by somebody else, we get into a motivational state called psychological reactance. This state will motivate us to stop that from happening, stop our freedom from being threatened and will also motivate us to restore the lost freedom.”

Recent interactive tools

In online interactive media, bandwagon cues and commenting tools are omnipresent, said Sundar, a partner of Penn State’s Institute for Computational and Data Sciences (ICDS).

“Increasingly, a lot of interactive media offer us ready tools on the interface that let us show our appreciation for content, such as hitting the ‘like’ button,” said Sundar. “Meanwhile, under the hood, interactive media compile the number of people who react positively and display that information in the form of metrics, such as number of likes.”

“Many scholars have been trying different approaches and looking at different solutions to solve the problem of reactance. One way to solve this problem, of course, is to reduce the threat level of the message, for example, make the message less threatening, or alternatively, we can try to offer our recipients more choices in the message. What we are suggesting is that we may be able to better use the tools of interactive media, not just messaging,” said Li.

As per the experts, upcoming studies must look into the relationship between commenting features and health goals. They also stated that using also investigating tools employed in interactive media and the organisation’s capacity could implement these media technologies for better health promotion.


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