COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Entertainment-education is a common strategy for incorporating health and other educational messages into popular entertainment media, U.S. researchers say.
Examples include a video game that teaches children conflict resolution skills, or a television show that presents an embedded message regarding condom efficacy.
However, Emily Moyer-Guse of The Ohio State University explains that persuasive communication is often perceived as a threat to one's freedom, even if the message recommendation is in one's best interest. This results in message rejection as a way to reassert independence.
Moyer-Guse contends in the journal Communication Theory that different types of involvement in the narrative, such as engagement with the plot or identification with characters, may help overcome resistance, thus resulting in persuasive effects. The narrative format can allow viewers to become "sucked in" to the world in which the drama takes place, reducing viewers' perception that the message is persuasive in nature.
"When viewers identify with characters, they may be more willing to consider dissonant perspectives and to imagine themselves doing, thinking, or feeling something they ordinarily would not, because they are experiencing it vicariously through the character," Moyer-Guse says in a statement. "Also, perceived similarity with a character who is portrayed as vulnerable to the harmful consequences of a risky behavior may increase viewers' perceived vulnerability to the behavior."