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Title: The role of perspective in visualising health behaviours : effects on motivation and behaviour
Author: Rennie, Laura J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2719 8619
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2010
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Recent research has shown that using a third-person (observer's) perspective to visualise a behaviour (voting, studying) results in stronger motivation to engage in the visualised behaviour than when the first-person (own) perspective is used (Libby, Shaeffer, Eibach, & Slemmer, 2007; Vasquez & Buehler, 2007). This thesis was concerned with whether this effect could be replicated in a health context- whether the perspective used when visualising a health behaviour affected motivation and subsequent behaviour. Experiments 1 and 2 found, in contrast to previous research, that participants who used the first-person perspective to visualise a behaviour (blood donation, smoking cessation) were more motivated to engage in the visualised behaviour than those who used the third-person perspective. Drawing on action identification theory (Vallcher & Wegner, 1987), it was predicted that the effect of perspective on motivation was moderated by the difficulty of the visualised behaviour. Supporting this, in Experiments 3 and 4 (in which difficulty was manipulated in addition to perspective), the effect of perspective on motivation was found to be moderated by difficulty, and this effect carried over into behaviour one week later in Experiment 4. It was hypothesised that the effect of perspective on motivation was mediated by the level of abstraction at which the visualised behaviour was mentally represented (in accordance with construalleve1 theory, Trope & Liberman, 2003). Although this mediation effect was not obtained in Experiment 5 when abstraction was assessed using the behavioural identification form (Vallacher & Wegner, 1987), Experiment 6 assessed the linguistic abstraction of participants' written accounts of their visualisation, and here it was found that the beneficial effect of the first-person perspective on motivation when visualising a difficult health behaviour (drinking restraint) was mediated by a more concrete representation of the behaviour, as predicted. A meta-analytical synthesis of the findings from Experiments 1 to 6 supported predictions regarding the moderating role of behaviour difficulty, and the mediating role of level of abstraction. Implications for theory and health behaviour change interventions are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available