Michael Hennessy

University of Pennsylvania, Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States

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Publications (71)148.66 Total impact

  • Sarah E. Vaala · Amy Bleakley · Michael Hennessy · Amy B. Jordan
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    ABSTRACT: Research indicates that media campaigns targeting weight-related behaviors can make overweight individuals feel stigmatized and may create backlash effects in weight-related health behavior. Using weight-based identity threat theory as a guiding framework, this study investigates the role of prior weight stigmatization in adults’ reactions to public service advertisements (PSAs) encouraging sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) reduction. In an online survey experiment among 807 U.S. parents, participants were randomly assigned to view anti-SSB PSAs containing one of three persuasive appeals (fear, humor, or nurturance). Emotional responses, evaluation of argument strength, and intention to reduce SSB consumption were measured following PSA exposure. Non-stigmatized parents felt less empowerment and hope and perceived weaker arguments if they viewed humorous PSAs instead of fear-based PSAs. Argument strength and empowerment or hopeful emotions predicted increased intention to reduce SSB consumption, regardless of whether participants had been stigmatized. There was weak support for the moderation of emotional responses on intentions by stigmatization history such that negative emotions were associated with lower SSB-reduction intentions only among stigmatized participants. Experiences of stigmatization can shape audiences’ responses to health-related messages in unintended ways. The findings suggest that campaign designers should choose empowering messages with strong arguments and avoid evoking negative emotions.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2016 · Media Psychology
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    ABSTRACT: In this article, we describe a novel experimental approach for identifying the effectiveness of distinct persuasive strategies used in audiovisual (television-format) public service advertisements (PSAs) designed to encourage parents to reduce their children’s sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption. Eight-hundred and seven parents were assigned to one of three experimental conditions with exposure to PSAs using distinct emotional appeals (fear, humor, and nurturance) or a control (non-SSB PSA). Parents’ emotional and cognitive responses to the ads and intentions to cut back on their child’s SSB consumption were assessed using a path analysis. Findings show no significant difference in the experimental versus control groups on intention to reduce children’s intake. However, parents who had greater feelings of empowerment and hope, and greater perceived argument strength post-PSA viewing were significantly more likely to intend to cut back their children’s SSB consumption. Additionally, parent characteristics moderated the paths between the experimental conditions and mediators. Fathers felt significantly less empowerment/hope and fewer positive emotions than mothers in the humor condition, and lighter SSB consumers felt significantly less empowerment and hope and positive emotions than heavy SSB consumers in the fear condition. The findings of this study suggest that health-related messages directed at parents may be most effective if they present strong arguments and elicit feelings of empowerment and hope.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · American Behavioral Scientist
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    ABSTRACT: Mass media campaigns are a commonly used approach to reduce sugary drink consumption, which is linked to obesity in children and adolescents. The present study investigated the direct and mediated effects of emotional appeals in public service advertisements (PSAs) that aired between 2010 and 2012 on adolescents' intention to reduce their sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption. An online randomized experiment was conducted with a national sample of adolescent respondents ages 13 to 17 years old (N = 805). Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 conditions. Three experimental conditions represented PSAs with different emotional appeals: humor, fear, and nurturance, plus a fourth control condition. The outcome was adolescents' intention to cut back on SSBs. The direct effect of fear appeals on intention was mediated through adolescents' perception of the PSAs' argument strength; perceived argument strength was also the key mediator for the indirect effects of humor and nurturance on intention. Several hypothesized mediators influenced by the appeals were not associated with intention. This is the first study to test the effect of persuasive emotional appeals used in SSB-related PSAs. The perceived strength of the PSAs' arguments is important to consider in the communication of messages designed to reduce SSB consumption.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · Journal of Health Communication
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    ABSTRACT: The family system plays an important role in shaping children’s television use. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that parents limit screen time, given the risks associated with children’s heavy television viewing. Researchers have highlighted family television practices that may be effective for reducing children’s viewing, but more work is needed to identify which are most appropriate to communicate to families. Using cross-sectional data from parents of children aged 3-12 (n = 360), we confirmed a positive association between four television practices (background television, television during meals, bedroom television access, nighttime television viewing) and children’s time spent viewing. Findings for the moderating roles of race, parent education, and income provide valuable information for the design of television-reduction interventions. Most notably, results indicate that encouraging families to reduce their children’s nighttime television viewing is a promising direction for achieving healthier viewing amounts for children across developmental ages and demographic contexts.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Journal of Family Communication
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    ABSTRACT: Voting is an essential component of civic engagement. To demonstrate the utility of a reasoned action approach to predict voting, we created an instrument that measured non-normative political beliefs and voting intentions. We identified political beliefs and attitudes of the Republican Party, Democratic Party, Libertarian Party, Tea Party, and Occupy Wall Street Movement. A total of 2,637 participants from Mechanical Turk completed the survey using Survey Monkey. We identified the three political belief items best characterizing each political ideology and associated attitudes and beliefs. Regression analysis confirmed the utility of our approach to predict intentions to vote for candidates who were concordant with participants’ attitudes, beliefs, and norms. The reasoned action analyses accounted for a majority of the variance in intention to vote for candidates sharing respondent favored political beliefs and specific political positions. The study is the first to demonstrate that reasoned action approach is an effective tool for predicting civic engagement.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Journal of Community Psychology
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    ABSTRACT: To examine how parents' beliefs about beverage attributes and exposure to sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) advertising are associated with parents' and their children's SSB consumption. Cross-sectional representative telephone survey of Philadelphia parents in households with children between the ages of 3 and 16 years. Three hundred and seventy-one randomly selected survey respondents. The response rate was 27% using the American Association for Public Opinion Research RR3 formula. SSB consumption, health ratings of SSBs, exposure to SSB ads, and exposure to anti-SSB public service advertisements. Seemingly unrelated regression was used to correct for Type I error and significance levels were set at .05 or less. Assessment of SSB "healthiness" was associated with the increased adult consumption of SSBs for three of the five SSBs and associated with children's consumption for all four SSBs with child consumption data. For both groups, ratings of SSB sugar and caloric content were not related to consumption. Adult exposure to SSB-specific advertising was related to consumption for three of five SSBs and two of four SSBs consumed by children. These results suggest that sugar and calories are not relevant to consumption, absent an explicit connection to a healthiness evaluation of SSBs. © 2015 Society for Public Health Education.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Health Education & Behavior
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    ABSTRACT: Research on the relationship between adolescent health risk behaviors, sexual risk behaviors in particular, and perceived life satisfaction is emerging. Some researchers suggest that life satisfaction has been a neglected component of adolescent health research. African American adolescents aged 13-18 (n = 1,658) from four matched, mid-sized cities in the northeastern and southeastern USA, completed a self-report questionnaire via Audio Computer Assisted Self-Interview. Analyses were conducted to examine relationships between perceived difficulty in performing HIV/AIDS preventive behavior and perceived life satisfaction, while controlling for socioeconomic status. Results suggest that perceived life satisfaction is related to perceived difficulty in performing HIV/AIDS preventive behaviors, for both males and females, with variability in the magnitude of associations by gender. Further research is necessary to identify the particular characteristics of youth and specific aspects of adolescent life satisfaction associated with perceived difficulty in performing HIV/AIDS preventive behavior to develop gender-appropriate and culturally-sensitive quality of life/health promotion programs.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2014 · AIDS and Behavior
  • Michael Hennessy · Amy Bleakley · Giridhar Mallya · Daniel Romer
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: Because household smoking levels and adoption of domestic smoking rules may be endogenously related, we estimated a nonrecursive regression model to determine the simultaneous relationship between home smoking restrictions and household smoking. Methods: We used data from a May-June 2012 survey of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, households with smokers (n = 456) to determine the simultaneous association between smoking levels in the home and the presence of home restrictions on smoking. Results: We found that home smoking rules predicted smoking in the home but smoking in the home had no effect on home smoking restrictions. Conclusions: Absent in-home randomized experiments, a quasi-experimental causal inference suggesting that home smoking rules result in lower home smoking levels may be plausible.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2014 · American Journal of Public Health
  • Amy Bleakley · Michael Hennessy · Giridhar Mallya · Daniel Romer
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    ABSTRACT: We identified household, child, and demographic characteristics associated with not having a smoking ban and having a rule about smoking in the presence of children in an urban population. We conducted a cross-sectional random digit dial telephone survey (n=456) of Philadelphia parents in June 2012. Forty-eight percent of homes reported a full smoking ban. In homes that allowed smoking, over half allowed smoking in front of children. Cigarettes smoked in the home decreased as the restrictiveness of the bans increased. Multinomial logistic regression analyses showed that compared to having a full ban, banning smoking only in the presence of children was associated with being African-American, having a child >5 years old, and having an asthma-free child. These characteristics, as well as having both parents as smokers and not having an outdoor space, were also associated with not having any restrictions. It is possible that households attempt to reduce home smoking by limiting smoking in the presence of children. Health communication messages should be used to inform families about the lingering effects of SHS in the home even when smoking does not occur in the presence of a child.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2013 · Preventive Medicine
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    Michael B Blank · Michael Hennessy · Marlene M Eisenberg
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    ABSTRACT: The heightened risk of persons with serious mental illness (SMI) to contract and transmit human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a public health problem. Our objective was test the effectiveness of a community-based advanced practice nurse intervention to promote adherence to HIV and psychiatric treatment regimens call Preventing AIDS Through Health for Positives (PATH+). We enrolled 238 HIV-positive subjects with SMI who were in treatment at community HIV provider agencies from 2004 to 2009. Participants in the intervention group were assigned an advanced practice nurse who provided community-based care management at a minimum of one visit/week and coordinated their medical and mental healthcare for 12 months. A parallel process latent growth curve model using three data points for biomarkers (baseline, 12 and 24 months) and five data points for health related quality of life (baseline, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months) showed moderate to excellent fit for modeling changes in CD4, viral load, and mental and physical SF-12 subscales. Results suggest that positive effects for PATH+ persisted at 24 months; 12 months after the intervention ended. This project demonstrates the effectiveness of a nurse-led, community-based, individually tailored adherence intervention. We demonstrated improved outcomes in individuals with HIV/SMI and regarding health-related quality of life and reductions in disease burden.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · AIDS and Behavior
  • Michael Hennessy · Amy Bleakley · Giridhar Mallya · Dan Romer
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    ABSTRACT: Smoking in homes exposes family members to secondhand smoke, an exposure that is harmful to children and adults. This study identifies barriers to instituting household smoking bans and beliefs that are positively and negatively related to smoking bans in households with smokers. A telephone survey of parents living in Philadelphia with at least 1 smoker and a child under the age of 13 years in the household was conducted in 2012. Using the reasoned action model, the survey assessed beliefs regarding attitudes, norms, and self-efficacy/control predictors of intention to ban household smoking. Forty-seven percent of households reported high intention to not allow smoking in the home. Regression analysis to identify the reasoned action predictors associated with intention to restrict smoking in the home showed that all 3 of the predictors of intention (attitude, normative pressure, and control) were significantly related to intention. Important underlying beliefs related to intention included beliefs about the health effects of secondhand smoke on children's health, norms regarding those restrictions, and barriers to enforcing such restrictions. Messages that increase concern about the health effects of secondhand smoke on children, that contrast the rights of smokers with negative health effects, and that suggest alternative locations to smoke are promising strategies to motivate smokers to implement indoor smoking bans.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2013 · Nicotine & Tobacco Research
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    Amy Bleakley · Amy B. Jordan · Michael Hennessy
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: To examine the effect of parental television viewing on children's television viewing compared with traditional predictors such as household television access, parental rules, and demographic characteristics of the child, parent, and household. Methods: An online survey using national samples of 1550 parents with children in 3 age groups (children ≤ 5 years, children aged 6-11 years, and adolescents aged 12-17 years), weighted to be representative of US parents with children in each age group. Adolescents (n = 629) of participating parents were also surveyed. Results: Parent television time is associated with child television time and had a stronger relationship to child time than access to television in the home or the child's bedroom, as well as parental rules about television viewing and coviewing. This pattern persisted across all age groups of children. Conclusions: Educating parents about the relationship between their own and their child's viewing may be a useful strategy for interventions that aim to reduce children's excessive television viewing. Additionally, health professionals can engage parents in a discussion about how family television time is associated with increased television time for children.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2013 · PEDIATRICS
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    ABSTRACT: Using the Integrated Model of Behavioral Prediction, this study examines the effects of exposure to sexual content on television by genre, specifically looking at comedy, drama, cartoon, and reality programs, on adolescents' sex-related cognitions and behaviors. Additionally, we compared the amount and explicitness of sexual content as well as the frequency of risk and responsibility messages in these four genres. Findings show that overall exposure to sexual content on television was not related to teens' engagement in sexual intercourse the following year. When examined by genre, exposure to sexual content in comedies was positively associated while exposure to sexual content in dramas was negatively associated with attitudes regarding sex, perceived normative pressure, intentions, and engaging in sex one year later. Implications of adolescent exposure to various types of content and for using genre categories to examine exposure and effects are discussed.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2013 · Communication Research
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Scientific evidence demonstrates a link between viewing time and several poor health outcomes. We use a reasoned action approach to identify the determinants and beliefs associated with parents' intention to limit their children's television viewing. Methods: We surveyed a random sample of 516 caregivers to children ages 3-16 in a large Northeastern city. Multiple regression analyses were used to test a reasoned action model and examine the differences across demographic groups. Results: The intention to limit viewing (-3 to 3) was low among parents of adolescents (M: 0.05) compared with parents of 3-6 year olds (M: 1.49) and 7-12 year olds (M: 1.16). Attitudes were the strongest determinant of intention (β = 0.43) across all demographic groups and normative pressure was also significantly related to intention (β = 0.20), except among parents of adolescents. Relevant beliefs associated with intention to limit viewing included: limiting television would be associated with the child exercising more, doing better in school, talking to family more and having less exposure to inappropriate content. Conclusions: Attitudes and normative pressure play an important role in determining parents' intention to limit their child's television viewing. The beliefs that were associated with parents' intention to limit should be emphasized by health professionals and in health communication campaigns.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2013 · Journal of Public Health
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: We estimated the long-term (36-month) effects of Project iMPPACS, a multisite randomized controlled trial of mass media and small-group intervention for African American adolescents. Methods: We collected 6 waves of longitudinal data on program participants aged 14 to 17 years (n = 1139) in Providence, Rhode Island; Syracuse, New York; Columbia, South Carolina; and Macon, Georgia, 36 months (December 2009-December 2010) after the intervention began (August 2006-January 2008). Seemingly unrelated regressions at each wave estimated the effects of 3 types of mass media messages (the thematic mediators: selection, pleasure, and negotiation) on condom use intention and self-reported unprotected vaginal sex events. Results: All 3 mediators of behavior change that were introduced during the media intervention were sustained at the follow-up assessments at least 18 months after the intervention ended, with intention having the largest correlation. Unprotected vaginal sex increased with each wave of the study, although cities receiving media exposure had smaller increases. Conclusions: Project iMPPACS demonstrates that mass media influence delivered over an extended period, when adolescents were beginning to learn patterns of behavior associated with sex, persisted after the media program ended.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · American Journal of Public Health
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    Michael Hennessy · Amy Bleakley · Martin Fishbein
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    ABSTRACT: Quantitative researchers distinguish between causal and effect indicators. What are the analytic problems when both types of measures are present in a quantitative reasoned action analysis? To answer this question, we use data from a longitudinal study to estimate the association between two constructs central to reasoned action theory: behavioral beliefs and attitudes toward the behavior. The belief items are causal indicators that define a latent variable index while the attitude items are effect indicators that reflect the operation of a latent variable scale. We identify the issues when effect and causal indicators are present in a single analysis and conclude that both types of indicators can be incorporated in the analysis of data based on the reasoned action approach.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
  • Michael B. Blank · Michael Hennessy
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    ABSTRACT: There is confusion regarding reason and rational thought as a precondition for interventions designed using a reasoned action approach. To test their feasibility, two interventions were developed for use with persons with mental illnesses, using the reasoned action model. Preventing AIDS through Health (PATH) was delivered one-on-one by case managers to persons with mental illnesses who were HIV sero-negative, and another (PATH PLUS) was delivered by nurses to persons with mental illness who were sero-positive. Using these data, this article examines the utility of a reasoned action approach to HIV prevention among persons with a variety of serious mental illnesses. It appears that a reasoned action approach is useful for persons with severe mental illnesses and may be a useful strategy for changing intentions and behavior among this population. This has implications for further research on the role of nonnormative belief systems in predicting behavior.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2012 · The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
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    Amy Bleakley · Michael Hennessy
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    ABSTRACT: This article serves as a guide for conducting statistical analyses in a reasoned action context. Using structural equation modeling concepts, the authors identify two elements of reasoned action data: the structural component relating theoretical variables to one another and a measurement component defining the theoretical constructs. The authors then describe a three-step analytic approach: analyzing the proximal determinants of intention to perform a behavior, analyzing the underlying beliefs, and performing a segmentation analysis for intervention design purposes. In each step, when appropriate, the authors discuss the role of background/precursor variables. The authors conclude by addressing several common analytic issues that may arise when conducting a reasoned action analysis, such as the role of past behavior and testing for moderation.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2012 · The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
  • Jessica Piotrowski · Amy Bleakley · Michael Hennessy · Shonna Kydd · Amy Jordan
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    ABSTRACT: Obesity continues to be a major public health concern for America's children, with obesity rates for preschoolers tripling in the past 30 years and quadrupling for children aged 6 to 11. Television viewing has been shown to have a small, but significant association with childhood overweight. While research is ongoing to understand the pathways from television to overweight, the Surgeon General recommends that parents limit children's TV viewing to two hours per day. Previous research has highlighted parental behaviors that could result in decreased television viewing at home. These include: (1) no TV in a child's bedroom, (2) no background TV, (3) no TV during meals, and (4) no TV the hour before sleeping. While all should be associated with decreased viewing, it is unclear whether and how these associations may differ across demographic factors (i.e. child age, parent education, child race, family income). Using cross-sectional data from a random sample of 360 parents of children aged 3-12 living in a large urban city, we confirmed a significant association between each behavior and reduced viewing. Interestingly, when investigating moderation, only one behavior maintained a consistent association with reduced viewing across all demographic variables no television the hour before sleeping. As children's poor sleep has been linked to overweight, this finding identifies a modifiable behavior that may be used to counter childhood overweight.
    No preview · Conference Paper · Oct 2011
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    ABSTRACT: To test the long-term effects of a mass media intervention that used culturally and developmentally appropriate messages to enhance human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-preventive beliefs and behavior of high-risk African American adolescents. Television and radio messages were delivered for more than 3 years in two cities (Syracuse, NY; and Macon, GA) that were randomly selected within each of the two regionally matched city pairs, with the other cities (Providence, RI; and Columbia, SC) serving as controls. African American adolescents, aged 14-17 years (N = 1,710), recruited in the four cities over a 16-month period, completed audio computer-assisted self-interviews at recruitment and again at 3, 6, 12, and 18-months postrecruitment to assess the long-term effects of the media program. To identify the unique effects of the media intervention, youth who completed at least one follow-up and who did not test positive for any of the three sexually transmitted infections at recruitment or at 6-and 12-month follow-up were retained for analysis (N = 1,346). The media intervention reached virtually all the adolescents in the trial and produced a range of effects including improved normative condom-use negotiation expectancies and increased sex refusal self-efficacy. Most importantly, older adolescents (aged 16-17 years) exposed to the media program showed a less risky age trajectory of unprotected sex than those in the nonmedia cities. Culturally tailored mass media messages that are delivered consistently over time have the potential to reach a large audience of high-risk adolescents, to support changes in HIV-preventive beliefs, and to reduce HIV-associated risk behaviors among older youth.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2011 · Journal of Adolescent Health

Publication Stats

1k Citations
148.66 Total Impact Points


  • 2002-2015
    • University of Pennsylvania
      • • Annenberg Public Policy Center
      • • Annenberg School for Communication
      Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 1999-2014
    • William Penn University
      Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
      Atlanta, Michigan, United States
  • 1999-2010
    • Annenberg Center for Communication
      Los Ángeles, California, United States
  • 2006
    • Loyola Marymount University
      Los Ángeles, California, United States