Political identity, persuasion, and public health : how identification to a political ideology informs the design of health communication messages

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2023-12

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Health communication is crucial to ensure audiences understand, process, and rely on accurate information to make health-related decisions. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the politicization of non-political matters permeated into other health-related contexts. While the processing and divulging of scientific evidence should not pertain to politics, the innate tendency for humans to let their identities influence their behavior can allow health communication experts to take advantage of political ideology identification to increase persuasion. Thus, through a 2x2 with a control group experimental design, followed by a series of in-depth interviews, this study investigated the use of politically-based cues in health-related messages and its impact on health-related message acceptance. Findings suggest that relying on political cues can increase the likelihood of persuasion if the cues are subtle and supportive of individuals’ political views. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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