Eye movement inductions influence health behaviour: the working memory account of persuasion

Arie Dijkstra*, Sarah Elbert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

Objective: Because the working memory (WM) has a limited capacity, the cognitive reactions towards persuasive information in the WM might be disturbed by taxing it by other means, in this study, by inducing voluntary eye movements (EMi). This is expected to influence persuasion. Methods: Participants (N = 127) listened to an auditory persuasive message on fruit and vegetable consumption, that was either framed positively or negatively. Half of them was asked to keep following a regularly moving dot on their screen with their eyes. At pretest, cognitive self-affirmation inclination (CSAI) was assessed as individual difference to test possible moderation effects. Results: The EMi significantly lowered the quality of the mental images that participants reported to have of the persuasive outcomes. With regard to self-reported fruit and vegetable consumption after two weeks, EMi significantly lowered consumption when CSAI was high but it significantly increased consumption when CSAI was low. Conclusions: The results verify our earlier findings that induced EM can influence persuasion. Although it remains unclear whether the effects of EMi were caused by disturbing mental images of persuasive outcomes or self-regulative reactions to these images, or both, the WM account may provide new theoretical as well as practical angles on persuasion.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaaw0914
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology & Health
Volume4
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14-Jun-2019

Keywords

  • Eye movements
  • working memory
  • persuasion
  • defensive self-regulation
  • SELF-AFFIRMATION
  • REPROCESSING EMDR
  • DESENSITIZATION
  • ATTENTION
  • DISTRACTION
  • MESSAGES
  • CAPACITY
  • IMAGERY
  • REDUCE
  • FRUIT

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