Mitigating the Perception of Threat to Freedom through Abstraction and Distance

Sherri J Katz, Sahara Byrne, Alyssa Irene Kent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study tested theoretical relationships between key concepts in psychological reactance theory and construal level theory. Through a 3 × 2 × 2 experiment (n = 155), we manipulate (1) how abstractly or concretely participants are processing a message, (2) the psychological distance to the message, and (3) whether or not the message restricts choice. Dependent measures include perceptions of threat to freedom and message effectiveness. Results show that increasing abstraction and/or distance can mitigate the perception of threat to freedom that is experienced when a message restricts choice. Furthermore, this process has a subsequent influence on message effectiveness. As the first study to consider the perception of threat to freedom in the context of construal level theory, this experiment furthers understanding of key theoretical relationships. Strategies for the design of successful persuasive messages are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1046-1069
Number of pages24
JournalCommunication Research
Volume44
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

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abstraction
threat
reactance
Experiments
experiment
Processing
Threat
Construal
Message Effectiveness
Experiment

Keywords

  • abstraction
  • construal level
  • persuasion
  • reactance

Cite this

Mitigating the Perception of Threat to Freedom through Abstraction and Distance. / Katz, Sherri J; Byrne, Sahara; Kent, Alyssa Irene.

In: Communication Research, Vol. 44, No. 7, 01.10.2017, p. 1046-1069.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Katz, Sherri J ; Byrne, Sahara ; Kent, Alyssa Irene. / Mitigating the Perception of Threat to Freedom through Abstraction and Distance. In: Communication Research. 2017 ; Vol. 44, No. 7. pp. 1046-1069.
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