Visualisation for increasing health intentions: Enhanced effects following a health message and when using a first-person perspective

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Authors: Rennie, L., Uskul, A.K., Adams, C. and Appleton, K.

Journal: Psychology and Health

Volume: 29

Issue: 2

Pages: 237-252

eISSN: 1476-8321

ISSN: 0887-0446

DOI: 10.1080/08870446.2013.843685

The present research explored whether visualising engaging in a health behaviour resulted in increased intentions to engage in that behaviour, when combined with an informational health message. Further, the effects of the visual perspective (first-person vs. third-person) used to visualise the health behaviour were explored. In an online questionnaire study employing a 2 × 3 between-participants experimental design, participants (N = 532) read vs. did not read an informational health message about the benefits of increasing fruit consumption, then visualised (from first-person vs. third-person perspective) vs. did not visualise themselves increasing their fruit consumption. Intentions to increase fruit consumption were assessed, as were potential mediating variables. The results indicated that visualisation (irrespective of perspective) did not result in increased intentions when it was not combined with the health message. However, when participants had read the health message, visualisation resulted in significantly stronger intentions, and the first-person perspective was significantly more effective than the third-person perspective. The beneficial effect of visualisation, and the first-person perspective, on intentions was mediated by increased self-efficacy and action planning. Findings are discussed in relation to existing research on visualisation and perspective, and in terms of practical applications for health promotion efforts. © 2013 Taylor & Francis.

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