The Persuasive Effects of Narrative PSAs on COVID-19 Vaccination Intention: The Mediating Role of Empathy and Psychological Reactance

International Communication Association (ICA) Conference, May 26-30, 2022, Paris, France

Abstract: Successful COVID-19 vaccine promotion for the unvaccinated relies on increasing positive reactions but also reducing negative responses to persuasive messages. The current study examined the relative effects of narrative vs. non-narrative public service announcements (PSAs) promoting COVID-19 vaccination on both positive and negative reactions. We explored the role of empathy and psychological reactance as underlying mechanisms. Results of an experiment involving unvaccinated young adults indicate that the narrative (vs. non-narrative) PSAs led to greater empathy. While no direct effects of message type emerged on psychological reactance or vaccination intention, results of a serial multi-mediator model confirmed that empathy and psychological reactance mediated the effects of message type on vaccination intention, yielding theoretical and practical implications for research and practice in COVID-19 vaccination and health communication.

Hanyoung Kim  Youngji Seo  Jeong-Yeob Han 

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