Project

Behavior and Clinical Change

Goal: understanding and finding ways of achieving optimal behavioral and clinical outcomes

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Project log

Dolores Albarracin
added a research item
A fundamental challenge complicates news decisions about covering vaccine side effects: although serious vaccine side effects are rare, less severe ones do occur occasionally. The study was designed to test whether a side effect message could induce vaccine hesitancy and whether that could be countered by pro-vaccine messages about vaccine safety. A large ( N = 2,345), nationally representative experiment was conducted by randomly exposing participants to one of six videos about the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine edited from news programs produced during the 2019 measles outbreak in the United States. The design was a 2x3 factorial crossing the presence or absence of a hesitancy-inducing narrative message with a pro-vaccine science-supporting message (i.e., no message, science-supporting expert message, or pro-vaccine narrative message), leading to a total of six conditions. A general linear model was used to assess the effects of these videos on respondents’ (1) vaccine risk perceptions, (2) policy views on vaccination, (3) willingness to encourage others to vaccinate their children, and (4) intention to send a pro-vaccine letter to their state representative. Findings indicated that the science-supporting expert message about vaccine safety led to higher pro-vaccine evaluations relative to other conditions [e.g., b = -0.17, p < .001, a reduction in vaccine risk perceptions of 0.17 as compared to the control]. There was also suggestive evidence that the hesitancy-inducing narrative may limit the effectiveness of a science-supporting expert message, although this finding was not consistent across different outcomes. When shown alone the hesitancy-inducing narrative did not shift views and intentions, but more research is needed to ascertain whether exposure to such messages can undercut the pro-vaccine influence of science-supporting (expert) ones. All in all, however, it is clear that science-supporting messages are effective and therefore worthwhile in combating vaccine misinformation.
Dolores Albarracin
added a research item
Significance Vaccination yields the prosocial benefits of preventing the spread of infectious diseases and protecting communities from major disease outbreaks. This research examines how focusing on prosocial concerns motivates vaccination across environments with varying levels of social density. Contrary to the common intuition that prosocial concern should motivate vaccination more in denser areas with more social contacts and disease transmission risk, our results show that prosocial concern yields higher vaccination rates in sparser areas where people believe that their behavior will have more impact. This research identifies emphasizing prosocial aspects of vaccination as one means by which public health interventions can reduce the rural−urban disparity in vaccination.
Dolores Albarracin
added a research item
Highlights  Incorporating data on daily Google searches, we investigated whether COVID-19 mitigation policies were associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety.  We found that mitigation policies were positively associated with the search indexes for mental health symptoms but do not suggest durable effects.  Moreover, the policies decreased searches for antidepressants and suicide, revealing no evidence of increases in severe symptomatology.  We found suggestive evidence that the policies increased within-home hours which might promote new routines and greater social support within the family. J o u r n a l P r e-p r o o f 2 Abstract Given the unprecedented level and duration of mitigation policies during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, it is not surprising that the public and the media have raised important questions about the potential for negative mental health consequences of the measures. To answer them, natural variability in policy implementation across US states and over time was analyzed to determine if mitigation policies correlated with Google searches for terms associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Findings indicated that restaurant/bar limits and stay-at-home orders correlated with immediate increases in searches for isolation and worry but the effects tapered off two to four weeks after their respective peaks. Moreover, the policies correlated with a reduction in searches for antidepressants and suicide, thus revealing no evidence of increases in severe symptomatology. The policy implications of these findings are discussed. JEL Classification: I12; I31; I1
Dolores Albarracin
added a research item
People often talk to themselves using the first-person pronoun (I), but they also talk to themselves as if they are speaking to someone else, using the second-person pronoun (You). Yet, the relative behavioral control achieved by I and You self-talk remains unknown. The current research was designed to examine the potential behavioral advantage of using You in self-talk and the role of attitudes in this process. Three experiments compared the effects of I and You self-talk on problem solving performance and behavioral intentions. Experiment 1 revealed that giving self-advice about a hypothetical social situation using You yielded better anagram task performance than using I. Experiment 2 showed that using You self-talk in preparation for an anagram task enhanced anagram performance and intentions to work on anagrams more than I self-talk, and that these effects were mediated by participants' attitudes toward the task. Experiment 3 extended these findings to exercise intentions and highlighted the role of attitudes in this effect. Altogether, the current research showed that second-person self-talk strengthens both actual behavior performance and prospective behavioral intentions more than first-person self-talk. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Dolores Albarracin
added 6 research items
Data from a Knowledge, Attitude, Belief, and Practices (KABP) Survey, administered to a sample of residents of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, were used to replicate a previous study (Fishbein, Trafimow, Francis, et al., 1995) that investigated the relative importance, as predictors of condom use, of selected theoretical variables from the theory of reasoned action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975), and the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen & Madden, 1986). Besides addressing generalization problems, the study tested a more internally valid formulation of the role of past behavior that supported the argument that past condom use is better viewed as a predictor of current intention than as a criterion variable. Perhaps more important, the influence of past behavior was found to be partially mediated by its effect on attitudes and norms.
To examine how well the theories of reasoned action and planned behavior predict condom use, the authors synthesized 96 data sets (N = 22,594) containing associations between the models' key variables. Consistent with the theory of reasoned action's predictions, (a) condom use was related to intentions (weighted mean r. = .45), (b) intentions were based on attitudes (r. = .58) and subjective norms (r. = .39), and (c) attitudes were associated with behavioral beliefs (r. = .56) and norms were associated with normative beliefs (r. = .46). Consistent with the theory of planned behavior's predictions, perceived behavioral control was related to condom use intentions (r. = .45) and condom use (r. = .25), but in contrast to the theory, it did not contribute significantly to condom use. The strength of these associations, however, was influenced by the consideration of past behavior. Implications of these results for HIV prevention efforts are discussed.
To study the structure of beliefs about condom use outcomes, the authors derived and tested 4 psychosocial hypothetical models: (a) a 2-factor model of the personal and social outcomes of condom use; (b) a 2-factor model of the pros and cons of the behavior; (c) a 3-factor model (i.e., physical, self-evaluative, and social) of outcome expectancies; and (d) a thematic 4-factor model of the protection, self-concept, pleasure, and interaction implications of the behavior. All 4 models were studied with a confirmatory factor analysis approach in a multisite study of 4,638 participants, and the thematic solution was consistently the most plausible. Self-concept and pleasure were most strongly associated with attitudes toward using condoms, intentions to use condoms, and actual condom use, whereas protection and interaction generally had little influence.
Dolores Albarracin
added a project goal
understanding and finding ways of achieving optimal behavioral and clinical outcomes