The Promises and Pitfalls of Personalization in Narratives to Promote Social Change

Shuo Zhou, Jeff Niederdeppe

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

This study tests the effects of personalization on narrative engagement and public support for obesity prevention policies. We explicate three dimensions of personalization: identifiability, individualization and inner states descriptions. A randomized experiment yielded results showing that depersonalized depictions are superior in promoting targeted policies relative to personalized depictions and a no message control group. Among the three dimensions of personalization, revealing the character’s inner states was most detrimental to audience’s narrative engagement, reducing levels of transportation, identification and empathy. Empathy fully mediated the impact of inner states description on policy support. We speculate that personalized depictions may be effective when the persuasion is aimed at attitudinal or behavioral change at individual level. However, personalization may impede the intended effects when the goal is to increase support for public policies aimed at changing social factors that influence health outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2015
EventICA 2015 - 65th Annual International Communication Association Conference: Communication Across the Life Span - San Juan, Puerto Rico
Duration: 21 May 201525 May 2015
https://convention2.allacademic.com/one/ica/ica15/

Conference

ConferenceICA 2015 - 65th Annual International Communication Association Conference
Country/TerritoryPuerto Rico
CitySan Juan
Period21/05/1525/05/15
Internet address

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