- People with a
conservative political ideology are more likely to be healthier, more willing
to engage in physical activity, and have stronger intentions to quit smoking.
- Using advertising
cues to prime people to think ‘conservatively’, even if they’re liberal, could
lead to better health outcomes.
more likely to be healthier, more willing to engage in physical activity, and
have stronger intentions to quit smoking, according to research by Monash
University. And marketers can play a leading role in delivering this positive
research by Dr Eugene Chan in the Monash Business School, published in the Journal
of Personal and Individual Differences, seeks to gain greater understanding
of the role political orientation has on public health, and the various advertising
cues that can encourage better lifestyle choices.
studies that measured the self-reported physical health conditions, physical
activity engagement and smoking cessation intentions of more than 600
participants were conducted as part of the overall project.
Dr Chan, an
expert in consumer behaviour, says the embedding of messages, phrases and
imagery in public health advertising can awaken the conservative value of
personal responsibility and improve the likelihood of positive behaviour change.
His findings are
consistent with previous research in sociology and public health. But, Dr Chan
demonstrated that personal responsibility may explain why.
don’t believe that conservative personal responsibility is the only
explanation for possible better health. However, we believe that it can play a
role,” Dr Chan said.
suggest individuals who have higher incomes tended to vote conservative and had
access to a wider variety of health services. But Dr Chan believes that even
priming people to think ‘conservatively’, even those who support a liberal
ideology, can encourage a healthy lifestyle.
and obesity crises have taken hold of Australia, the US and other parts of the
world, so it’s vital to understand the various antecedents to health and social
wellbeing – whether that be political, psychological or otherwise.
notable gap in existing consumer behaviour literature that fails to identify
how political orientation and ideology formulates a sense of self, and how this
research on political orientation shows that who we vote for at the ballot box
can also affect how we see other aspects of our lives, including our physical
The first study
sought to determine if self-reported political conservatism would correlate
with self-reported physical health and importance of personal responsibility.
More than 90 per cent of the 193 participants who held conservative views registered
high levels of self-reported personal responsibility.
In a separate
study, an additional 204 participants were measured on their decision-making in
either taking the stairs or an elevator to their next destination, after
completing a survey, and whether personal responsibility would mediate this
were told to take their completed survey up one floor to register their
completion. They were encouraged to take the stairs, but they were a decent
walk from the elevator, which was in close proximity.
that participants supporting the conservatives were more likely to take the
stairs (52.9 per cent) compared to those supporting the liberals (36.3 per cent).
In the final
study, 205 smokers were recruited and primed with both politically conservative
and liberal messaging to assess their intentions of quitting smoking. To prime
conservatism, words such as ‘traditional’ and ‘conventional’ were used; to
prime liberalism, words such as ‘free’ and ‘left-wing’ were adopted.
primed with political conservatism scored higher on intentions to quit smoking
and the value of personal responsibility compared to liberals by more than
half. The effect of mediation was significant.
“Our findings suggest
that highlighting the concept of personal responsibility may motivate
individuals to take this value into consideration at the time of
decision-making, encouraging uptake of the public health promotion messages,”
Dr Chan said.
“It’s hoped that
this study can help marketers diversify their public health messages and
encourage people to make better lifestyle choices.”
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