Deceived, disgusted, and defensive: Motivated processing of anti-tobacco advertisements

Glenn Leshner, Russell B. Clayton, Paul D. Bolls, Manu Bhandari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


A 2 × 2 experiment was conducted, where participants watched anti-tobacco messages that varied in deception (content portraying tobacco companies as dishonest) and disgust (negative graphic images) content. Psychophysiological measures, self-report, and a recognition test were used to test hypotheses generated from the motivated cognition framework. The results of this study indicate that messages containing both deception and disgust push viewers into a cascade of defensive responses reflected by increased self-reported unpleasantness, reduced resources allocated to encoding, worsened recognition memory, and dampened emotional responses compared to messages depicting one attribute or neither. Findings from this study demonstrate the value of applying a motivated cognition theoretical framework in research on responses to emotional content in health messages and support previous research on defensive processing and message design of anti-tobacco messages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1223-1232
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number10
StatePublished - Aug 27 2018


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