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Title:Delivering social support via online health messages: Testing the effects of stress and person-centeredness on emotional improvement, attitude and behavioral intention
Author(s):Pham, Giang Vu Hang
Advisor(s):Wirtz, John G.
Department / Program:Inst of Communications Rsch
Discipline:Communications and Media
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Social support
Health communication
Dual process
Online health newsletter
Healthy eating
Emotional improvement
Behavioral intention
Abstract:This study investigated the effect of exposure to person-centered messages delivered in a mass-mediated context on individuals experiencing mild or moderate levels of stress. Person-centeredness describes “the extent to which messages explicitly acknowledge, elaborate, legitimize, and contextualize the distressed other’s feelings and perspective” (Burleson, 2003, p. 11). The study used a 3 (person-centeredness: low, moderate, high) x 2 (stress: mild, moderate) between-subjects experiment with emotional improvement, attitude toward the message, and behavioral intention as the outcome variables. Participants (N = 243) were randomly assigned to a mild (i.e., gaining three pounds) or moderate stress condition (i.e., being diagnosed with Type II diabetes because of rapid weight gain). After exposure to the stress condition, participants then read one of three versions of a health newsletter using language that represented low, moderate, or high levels of person-centeredness. Results showed that higher levels of person-centeredness led to significantly greater emotional improvement and significantly more positive attitudes toward the message, although there was no difference in behavioral intention between the person-centeredness conditions. There was also a main effect for stress, such that participants under the moderate level stress reported greater emotional improvement and more positive attitude toward the message than participants under the mild level of stress, regardless of the type of message they received. However, none of the stress x person-centeredness interactions was significant. This study provides a framework to operationalize and test the effects of person-centered messages delivered in a mass-mediated context. Understanding the effect of person-centeredness in mass-mediated communication also provides practical implications for designing media messages directed to individuals experiencing stress.
Issue Date:2017-12-14
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Giang Pham
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-03-13
Date Deposited:2017-12

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