Reactance to Social Authority in a Sugar Reduction Informational Video: Web-Based Randomized Controlled Trial of 4013 Participants (Preprint) [post]

Violetta Hachaturyan, Maya Adam, Caterina Favaretti, Merlin Greuel, Jennifer Gates, Till Bärnighausen, Alain Vandormael
2021 unpublished
BACKGROUND Short and animated story-based (SAS) videos can be an effective strategy for promoting health messages. However, health promotion strategies often motivate the rejection of health messages, a phenomenon known as reactance. In this study, we examine whether the child narrator of a SAS video (perceived as nonthreatening, with low social authority) minimizes reactance to a health message about the consumption of added sugars. OBJECTIVE This study aims to determine whether our SAS
more » ... ntion video attenuates reactance to the sugar message when compared with a content placebo video (a health message about sunscreen) and a placebo video (a nonhealth message about earthquakes) and determine if the child narrator is more effective at reducing reactance to the sugar message when compared with the mother narrator (equivalent social authority to target audience) or family physician narrator (high social authority) of the same SAS video. METHODS This is a web-based randomized controlled trial comparing an intervention video about sugar reduction narrated by a child, the child's mother, or the family physician with a content placebo video about sunscreen use and a placebo video about earthquakes. The primary end points are differences in the antecedents to reactance (proneness to reactance, threat level of the message), its components (anger and negative cognition), and outcomes (source appraisal and attitude). We performed analysis of variance on data collected (N=4013) from participants aged 18 to 59 years who speak English and reside in the United Kingdom. RESULTS Between December 9 and December 11, 2020, we recruited 38.62% (1550/4013) men, 60.85% (2442/4013) women, and 0.52% (21/4013) others for our study. We found a strong causal relationship between the persuasiveness of the content promoted by the videos and the components of reactance. Compared with the placebo (mean 1.56, SD 0.63) and content placebo (mean 1.76, SD 0.69) videos, the intervention videos (mean 1.99, SD 0.83) aroused higher levels of reactance to the message content (<i>P</i>&lt;.001). We found no evidence that the child narrator (mean 1.99, SD 0.87) attenuated reactance to the sugar reduction message when compared with the physician (mean 1.95, SD 0.79; <i>P</i>=.77) and mother (mean 2.03, SD 0.83; <i>P</i>=.93). In addition, the physician was perceived as more qualified, reliable, and having more expertise than the child (<i>P&lt;</i>.001) and mother (<i>P&lt;</i>.001) narrators. CONCLUSIONS Although children may be perceived as nonthreatening messengers, we found no evidence that a child narrator attenuated reactance to a SAS video about sugar consumption when compared with a physician. Furthermore, our intervention videos, with well-intended goals toward audience health awareness, aroused higher levels of reactance when compared with the placebo videos. Our results highlight the challenges in developing effective interventions to promote persuasive health messages. CLINICALTRIAL German Clinical Trials Registry DRKS00022340; INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT RR2-10.2196/25343
doi:10.2196/preprints.29664 fatcat:pafwf2keozap7hoyzzsyvtr7s4