Cognitive and Affective Dimensions of Mitigation in Advice
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The present study examines the cognitive and affective dimensions of mitigation when providing peer advice in a mental health online support group. The corpus was comprised of 45 threads, with a total of 559 posts and 104,578 words, selected from an anorexia nervosa recovery forum. The analysis was conducted in a psychological paradigm that highlighted the role of cognition and emotion in the advice-giving act. The theoretical framework aligned Martinovski et al.’s (Proceedings of cognitive science, Stresa, 2005. http://ict.usc.edu/pubs/Mitigation%20Theory-%20An%20Integrated%20Approach.pdf) model of mitigation with Sperber and Wilson’s (Relevance: communication and cognition. Blackwell, Oxford, 1986/1995) relevance theory. The findings suggest that the cognitive processes of mindreading, argumentation, and empathy were linguistically construed in the advice-giving messages as coping mechanisms to confront the stressor of managing a life-threatening disorder in interaction. In the context of the forum advisory exchange, these three operations were deployed as discursive mitigating strategies to protect life rather than to protect face when negotiating the meanings of the illness.
KeywordsMitigation Advice Online forum Eating disorders Mindreading Argumentation Empathy
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
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