Self-affirmation moderates effects of unrealistic optimism and pessimism on reactions to tailored risk feedback.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

We examined whether self-affirmation would facilitate intentions to engage in colorectal cancer (CRC) screening among individuals who were off-schedule for CRC screening and who were categorised as unrealistically optimistic, realistic or unrealistically pessimistic about their CRC risk. All participants received tailored risk feedback; in addition, one group received threatening social comparison information regarding their risk factors, a second received this information after a self-affirmation exercise and a third was a no-treatment control. When participants were unrealistically optimistic about their CRC risk (determined by comparing their perceived comparative risk to calculations from a risk algorithm), they expressed greater interest in screening if they were self-affirmed (relative to controls). Non-affirmed unrealistic optimists expressed lower interest relative to controls, suggesting that they were responding defensively. Realistic participants and unrealistically pessimistic participants who were self-affirmed expressed relatively less interest in CRC screening, suggesting that self-affirmation can be helpful or hurtful depending on the accuracy of one's risk perceptions.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Klein, WMP; Lipkus, IM; Scholl, SM; McQueen, A; Cerully, JL; Harris, PR

Published Date

  • December 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 25 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 1195 - 1208

PubMed ID

  • 20204982

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC2888925

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1476-8321

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0887-0446

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/08870440903261970


  • eng