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08.05.2017 | Brief Report | Ausgabe 6/2017

Annals of Behavioral Medicine 6/2017

Experimentally Manipulated Self-Affirmation Promotes Reduced Alcohol Consumption in Response to Narrative Information

Annals of Behavioral Medicine > Ausgabe 6/2017
PhD Kerry J. Fox, PhD Peter R. Harris, PhD Donna C. Jessop
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s12160-017-9912-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Health-risk information is increasingly being conveyed through accounts of personal experiences or narrative information. However, whether self-affirmation can enhance the ability of such messages to promote behavior change has yet to be established.


This study aims to test whether self-affirmation (a) promotes behavior change following exposure to narrative information about the risks of excessive alcohol consumption and (b) boosts message acceptance by increasing narrative engagement.


In an experimental design, female drinkers (N = 142) reported their baseline alcohol consumption and were randomly allocated to condition (Self-Affirmation, Control). All participants next watched an extract of a genuine narrative piece in which the central character discussed her liver disease and its link with her previous alcohol consumption. Then, participants completed measures assessing engagement with the narrative and message acceptance. The primary outcome was alcohol consumption, assessed at 7-day follow-up.


Self-affirmed participants reported consuming significantly less alcohol at follow-up compared to baseline (mean 7-day decrease = 5.43 units); there was no change in alcohol consumption for the control group. Immediately post-manipulation, self-affirmed participants (vs. control) showed more message acceptance and reported greater engagement with the information. The impact of self-affirmation on message acceptance was mediated by narrative engagement.


Self-affirmation can promote behavior change following exposure to health information, even when presented in narrative form.

Clinical Trial Registration

The trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.​gov, number NCT02681900, (https://​clinicaltrials.​gov/​show/​NCT02681900).

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