Mitigating psychological reactance: The role of message-induced empathy in persuasion

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This article examines the role of message-induced state empathy in persuasion. Message-induced empathy is conceptualized as a perception-action process that consists of affective, cognitive, and associative components. Twenty professionally produced public service announcements (PSAs) were used as stimuli messages in a 2 (high vs. low empathy) × 2 (antismoking vs. drunk driving) × 5 (messages) mixed-design quasi-experimental study. The 289 participants were randomly assigned to each cell and watched five PSAs presented in a random sequence. Results showed that state empathy has unique contribution to predicting persuasion outcomes above and beyond the individual's affective and cognitive responses to the messages. In addition, state empathy also has an indirect effect on persuasion via mitigating psychological reactance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-422
Number of pages26
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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