International workshop on narrative experience and effects location:Leuven date:31 January - 2 February 2008
According to health behavior theories, judgments about susceptibility to health risks, such as heart disease or cancer, are crucial factors in individuals’ decisions concerning health promoting actions. Although some social-psychological models of health change include the effects of persuasive messages, such as the impact of public service announcements, they have neglected to focus on narratives as a potential powerful factor in stimulating or inhibiting health beliefs. Pallid information can influence health risk perceptions, but absorbing stories may cause stronger changes in vulnerability beliefs. Narratives can evoke emotional reactions, which could in turn serve as cues for risk perceptions. Whereas decision making research has mainly focused on cognitive shortcuts in explaining the cultivation of probability judgments, affective responses to narratives may have a greater impact on the construction of health risk perceptions.