Characteristics of individuals and illnesses can both influence receptivity to preventative health messages. We examined whether receptivity to health messages depends on interactions between illness characteristics and dispositional concern for justice. Participants considered the preventability of six illnesses after exposure to a message that manipulated personal responsibility for illness. Paradoxically, participants with strong just world beliefs reported greater preventability for less preventable illnesses, such as brain cancer, when exposed to an unpreventable health message. In parallel, participants with low justice beliefs reported less preventability for lung cancer when exposed to a preventable message. This just world boomerang effect suggests that individual dispositions and illness characteristics can interact in ways that can produce either acquiescence or opposition to persuasive health messages.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Psychology