"The side effects of health information in mass media on humans' health behavior"
University of Groningen - Social Psychology
Prof.dr. Arie Dijkstra (University of Groningen)
Dr. Simon Dalley (University of Groningen)
1 October 2014 - 1 October 2018
China Scholarship Council
To stimulate people on a large scale to behave healthy, it is essential that societies provide people with the right information: information on the negative effects and dangers of unhealthy behavior. This information is an essential part of people’s motivation to behave healthy. However, the audience is also exposed to information that inhibits healthy behavior change: especially, in formation on treatment success may undermine people’s motivation to behave healthy. For different reasons health charity or scientific organizations inform people that certain diseases “can be cured in the near future”. Although these claims may be valid and relevant, their negative side-effect is the maintenance of unhealthy behaviors and obesity in the population. To be able to control this problem, we need insight into the mechanisms that are involved.
The proposed four year PhD project is planned as a systematic line of studies to address this problem. In the first phase (the diagnostic phase) the frequency and intensity of the extent to which people are exposed to Treatment Success Information (TSI) will be studied in the field. In the second phase (the first testing phase), the effects of TSI on attitude towards the scientific organization, the intention to donate to health charity, quality of life, and health behavior will be assessed. In the third phase (the second testing phase), it will be investigated how the negative side-effect can be prevented by re-formulating the TSI information or providing a specific context to it. The fourth phase ( the action phase) will consist of developing and publishing guidelines to prevent the side-effects.