Event Title

Trust Me I Am Scientist: Acceptance of Threatening Information and the Role of Presentation

Presenter Information

Janae Koger

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation/Art Exihibt

College

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Major

Psychology

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Donna Garcia

Start Date

5-19-2016 1:00 PM

End Date

5-19-2016 2:30 PM

Abstract

When people encounter information that contradicts their preferred beliefs and behaviors, they experience reactance and seek to reject the information. We tested whether reactance is most likely to occur when information is less rather than more open to challenge. In our study, 400 undergraduate women indicated the number of cups of coffee they consumed daily then read a blog containing false research showing a positive correlation between coffee consumption and breast cancer in women. Because reactance increases in line with the attractiveness of the constrained behavior, women’s coffee consumption fit with our reactance theory framework. Participants were randomly assigned to read a blog where the author was described as a UCLA health scientist or science student, and the research was presented as opinion or as a fact. Participants then rated the plausibility of the research findings and the importance of limiting coffee consumption. We found that daily coffee consumption was unrelated to the plausibility of the information when reactance was likely low because participants could easily dismiss the credibility of the source (i.e., it came from a student) or regard the information as open to challenge (i.e., it was stated as an opinion). However, when the information was presented as factual and from a health scientist, women’s coffee consumption was negatively associated with their acceptance of the information as true. Our research suggests that scientific factual information might be accepted to a greater degree by motivated skeptics if it is presented as more rather than less open to challenge.

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May 19th, 1:00 PM May 19th, 2:30 PM

Trust Me I Am Scientist: Acceptance of Threatening Information and the Role of Presentation

When people encounter information that contradicts their preferred beliefs and behaviors, they experience reactance and seek to reject the information. We tested whether reactance is most likely to occur when information is less rather than more open to challenge. In our study, 400 undergraduate women indicated the number of cups of coffee they consumed daily then read a blog containing false research showing a positive correlation between coffee consumption and breast cancer in women. Because reactance increases in line with the attractiveness of the constrained behavior, women’s coffee consumption fit with our reactance theory framework. Participants were randomly assigned to read a blog where the author was described as a UCLA health scientist or science student, and the research was presented as opinion or as a fact. Participants then rated the plausibility of the research findings and the importance of limiting coffee consumption. We found that daily coffee consumption was unrelated to the plausibility of the information when reactance was likely low because participants could easily dismiss the credibility of the source (i.e., it came from a student) or regard the information as open to challenge (i.e., it was stated as an opinion). However, when the information was presented as factual and from a health scientist, women’s coffee consumption was negatively associated with their acceptance of the information as true. Our research suggests that scientific factual information might be accepted to a greater degree by motivated skeptics if it is presented as more rather than less open to challenge.