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J Exp Soc Psychol. 2007;43(2):249-257.

The effects of message quality and congruency on perceptions of tailored health communications.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242-0001, USA.


Recent research has documented the effectiveness of tailoring health behavior change messages to characteristics of the recipients, but little is known about the processes underlying these effects. Drawing from the elaboration likelihood model (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986), we examined the role of message scrutiny in moderating the congruency effect (Mann, Sherman, & Updegraff, 2004). One hundred and thirty-six undergraduate participants read either a strong or weak message promoting regular dental flossing with a frame (gain vs. loss) that either matched or mismatched their motivational orientation (approach vs. avoidance). Results showed that participants were sensitive to argument quality in the matched but not mismatched conditions. Further, argument quality moderated the effect of congruency on participants' attitudes and perceived norms regarding flossing, as well as their subsequent self-reported flossing behavior. Results suggest that increased message scrutiny underlies message tailoring effects.

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