The Effects of Message Elements and Individual Attributes on Transportation in Health Narratives
Objective: Health communication practitioners are faced with growing concerns regarding the effectiveness of health narratives to encourage pro-health behaviors. Health narratives are seen as interventions to assist individuals with health issues; however, there is little agreement on how to create effective health narratives that contribute to the health of society. This study attempts to shed new light on how to create effective health narratives by examining how narrative (story) attributes and individual (personal) attributes contribute to the transportation process and overall persuasiveness of narrative health communications. Methods: A 2 x 2 x 4 experimental design was employed to collect self-report and psychophysiological data was collected. Results: Findings from the study revealed that together vividness and perspective are significant variables that influence transportation and ultimately the persuasiveness of a health narrative. Individuals who were exposed to the figural vividness and third-person health narratives experienced a higher degree of transportation than those participants who were exposed to the background vividness and first-person health narratives. Participants who were exposed to the figural vividness and third-person manipulations exhibited increased attention as well as arousal. Conclusions: Theoretically, this study advanced the Transportation-Imagery Model by identifying two potential moderators of transportation (vividness and perspective) and thereby provides the basis for an extended model of transportation. The results also show that health communicators can enhance the effectiveness of communication messages by employing manipulating vividness and narrative perspective.