TOWARD AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE EMOTIVE STRUCTURE AND MOTIVATIONAL SYSTEMS AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON THE PROCESSING OF STRATEGIC HEALTH MESSAGES
 
Student researcher

Changmin Yan (Graduate Student)

Faculty Supervisor

Dr. Fuyuan Shen

Abstract

In this project, I tested and utilized two competing structural models of affect and motivational systems, the valence model and the functional model, to investigate the interaction of emotions (happiness, anger, and fear) and framing of health messages (gain and loss). Before a formative test of hypotheses, I conducted three pretests to identify a valid emotion induction method and to develop effective and credible framed messages. Pretest 1 found that the Montreal Affective Voices failed to induce the intended emotions. Results from Pretest 2 indicated that the Life Event Inventory Task successfully induced distinct and robust happiness, anger, and fear. Pretest 3 offered convincing evidence that the framed messages developed for this project were perceived to convey the intended frames and credible information. Using the Life Event Inventory Task and the pretested messages, Study 1 formally tested the hypotheses. First, compared to the valence model, the functional model better accounted for the relationship between emotions and motivational systems (behavioral approach system, BAS, and behavioral inhibition system, BIS). Second, as prescribed by the functional model, I found interactions of emotion and framing to significantly influence attitude. While gain frames produced more favorable attitudes for happy and angry participants, loss frames yielded more favorable attitudes among fearful individuals. I also conducted Study 2 to replicate Study 1, to test a causal model for the emotion-by-framing interaction, and to identify the dominant motivational system under different emotion-by-framing match conditions. Consistent with Study 1, the functional model was again supported. However, only partial support for the emotion-by-framing interaction on intention was found. Structural equation modeling results revealed that emotion and framing had indirect effects on attitude and intention via message related cognition and fear. Additional model comparisons indicated that BAS guided the persuasion process when the approach emotions (anger and happiness) coupled with gain frames; BIS predicted the process when inhibition emotion (fear) fitted with loss frames. I discussed both theoretical and practical implications at the end.

For more details regarding the study contact

Dr. Fuyuan Shen by e-mail at fshen@psu.edu or by telephone at (814) 865-1371

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Media Effects Research Lab at College of Communications, Penn State University