Personality traits and dysfunctional construal of online health promotion messages
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With the Internet becoming increasingly popular as a source of information, blogs offering healthy lifestyle techniques and knowledge have become popular and accessible. Despite their focus on health, these blogs portray content that may be negatively construed by viewers, especially those with or at risk for eating disorders. The present study investigated changes in affect and self-esteem after viewing a prototypic health blog. Personality traits, specifically neuroticism and conscientiousness, were also investigated.
A prototypic health blog was constructed after extensive review of existing blogs. A parallel format was then followed to create a home décor website for a control condition. Female undergraduate students were randomly assigned to one of two blog sites, and participants completed an earlier personality assessment and post-viewing study questionnaires.
Contrary to the hypothesis that readers of the health blog will report more negative outcomes, no main effect of blog condition was found. However, individuals high in trait neuroticism experienced greater differences in negative affect, but not self-esteem, when viewing the health blog versus the control blog.
This study found that viewing health blogs did not have immediate effects on affect and self-esteem, but more neurotic individuals were more inclined to experience negative affect when viewing health promotion messages. Personality traits assessed prior to the experiment were more predictive of negative affect and self-esteem during the experiment than blog viewing conditions.
No level of evidence, experimental study.
KeywordsHealth blogs Personality Neuroticism Conscientiousness Negative affect Self-esteem
Compliance with ethical standards
No funding has been received for the current study.
Conflict of interest
Both authors, Yaeeun Lee and Dr. John E. Kurtz, declare no conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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