Anorexia prevention messages: effects on psychological reactance among female college students
This study examined how anorexia prevention campaign messages affect female college students through a linear relationship among magnitude of requests, perceived threat to freedom, psychological reactance, attitude, and behavioral intention. A total of 163 female undergraduate students participated in an online survey and read four different fictional campaign messages (no request version, small request version, larger request version, and small and large request combined version) in terms of magnitude of requests regarding anorexia prevention.
Five hypotheses were examined to measure participants' level of reactance, threat to freedom, attitudes, and behavioral intention. The findings revealed a significant relationship between magnitude of requests and threat to freedom; i.e., more demanding requests in an anorexia prevention message can generate a higher level of threat to freedom. In addition, there was a positive relationship between threat to freedom and reactance; i.e., individuals who experienced a higher threat to freedom were more likely to experience stronger reactance whereas those who presented higher reactance exhibited a lower behavioral intention to follow anorexia prevention recommendations.
Nevertheless, there was not a significant relationship between reactance and attitude toward anorexia prevention recommendations. Furthermore, no significant positive relationship was revealed between attitude toward anorexia prevention recommendations and behavioral intention to follow anorexia prevention recommendations.