Effects of stigma, message valence and virality, and audience characteristics on the persuasiveness of anti-stigma messages via social media

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dc.contributor Billings, Andrew C.
dc.contributor Kim, Yonghwan
dc.contributor Leeper, James D.
dc.contributor Tang, Lu
dc.contributor.advisor Zhou, Shuhua
dc.contributor.author Bie, Bijie
dc.date.accessioned 2017-04-26T14:23:00Z
dc.date.available 2017-04-26T14:23:00Z
dc.date.issued 2015
dc.identifier.other u0015_0000001_0001900
dc.identifier.other Bie_alatus_0004D_12336
dc.identifier.uri http://ir.ua.edu/handle/123456789/2986
dc.description Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
dc.description.abstract A major obstacle to public health is social stigma toward people with mental illnesses. Research on social media-based stigma-mitigation interventions lags behind the medical community's acknowledgment of the seriousness of mental illness stigma. This dissertation examined the impact of social media-delivered anti-stigma messages about mental illness. In particular, the study investigated the impact of a message feature factor (message valence) and a social media interface cue (virality), as well as an individual factor (stigma-related audience segment) on participants' perceived message credibility, as well as attitude and behavioral intention. Participants showed significantly more stigmatizing attitudes toward schizophrenia than toward depression. Built on Goffman's (1963) and Smith's (2012) taxonomy of audience categories, among the 265 participants used for this analysis, only three audience segments exist with regard to the stigma toward depression (stigmatized, active supporters, and passive supporters), whereas four audience segments exist with regard to the stigma toward schizophrenia (stigmatizers, stigmatized, active supporters, and passive supporters). A series of hypotheses and research questions related to message valence and virality were proposed based on two classic dual-process theories of persuasion (i.e., the ELM and HSM) and a recent theory about online information processing and decision making (i.e., the MAIN model). Surprisingly, both message valence and virality had no significant effect on any of the dependent variables, nor on the interactions between them. In addition, it was found that stigma-related audience segment is a significant predictor of post-exposure attitude toward mental illness. Active supporters had more favorable attitudes toward the message, rated the source/content of the message as more credible, and reported higher viral behavioral intentions (VBI) to like and share (both online/off-line) the message. Participants who read anti-stigma messages about depression reported higher intentions to "Share" the messages, and the correlations between message evaluation variables and viral behavioral intentions (VBIs) were always stronger for the stimulus about depression than for the stimulus about schizophrenia. Theoretical and practical implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research are discussed.
dc.format.extent 165 p.
dc.format.medium electronic
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language English
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher University of Alabama Libraries
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Electronic Theses and Dissertations
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Libraries Digital Collections
dc.relation.hasversion born digital
dc.rights All rights reserved by the author unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subject.other Communication
dc.title Effects of stigma, message valence and virality, and audience characteristics on the persuasiveness of anti-stigma messages via social media
dc.type thesis
dc.type text
etdms.degree.department University of Alabama. College of Communication and Information Sciences
etdms.degree.discipline Communication & Information Sciences
etdms.degree.grantor The University of Alabama
etdms.degree.level doctoral
etdms.degree.name Ph.D.


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