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Defensive Reactions: Health Messages

  • By: Arie Dijkstra
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Health messages provide recipients with information that is designed to motivate them to behave healthily. Through textual (e.g., leaflets, Web articles), auditory (e.g., radio, telephone) and visual (e.g., Internet video, television, face-to-face) media people are informed about the negative physical consequences that may occur when they behave unhealthily, or the positive physical consequences that may occur when they start behaving healthily. However, in recipients for whom the information is objectively relevant, this type of information is often not effective: It seems that in many cases these messages are actively rejected by the recipients.

Defensive Self-Regulatory Reactions

This reaction to health messages is a defensive self-regulatory response: Recipients reject the information because it makes them feel bad. They can be expected to feel fear or shame when they ...

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