The paper in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research describes two studies that gauged how individuals responded to messages aimed at encouraging them to elevate the goal of staying healthy to be a major part of their self-concept.
The results showed that people who read material asking them to think of their health as a central part of their identity were more likely to wear masks and comply with physical distancing guidelines over the Memorial Day holiday.
The results also highlighted differences in how political conservatives and liberals respond differently to public health messages.
Beatriz Pereira, an assistant professor of marketing at Iowa State University who led the research, says it could inform how public health officials and businesses encourage citizens to change their behaviors, particularly when those behaviors may conflict with other parts of their identity, such as political ideology.
“We’re all composed of multiple identities,” Pereira says. “Everyone’s self-concept has multiple parts, and oftentimes they conflict. We know that people think that being healthy is important, but not everybody thinks that being healthy is central to…