Experiencing Inoculation: A Qualitative Analysis of an Interrupted Message Design

Kimberly A. Parker, Erin B. Hester, Bobi Ivanov, Kevin Wombacher, Tara Watterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The persuasion literature shows robust support for the effectiveness of inoculation as a resistance strategy. Despite our more nuanced understanding of the theoretical process, scholars have yet to investigate how individuals experience inoculation as it occurs. Researchers conducted 31 in-depth interviews of men in a residential recovery facility. Interviews were collected at multiple points during the presentation of an inoculation message in order to collect participants’ perceptions and responses to each message component. Deductive thematic analysis was used to determine how and why responses are elicited during inoculation, based on theoretical predictions. Findings illustrate that threat is experienced differently at multiple points throughout the inoculation message, suggesting that the forewarning and weakened counterarguments elicit unique expressions that resemble apprehension and motivation, respectively. Additionally, counterarguments stemming from the message content often take the form of direct refutations, focusing primarily on the long-term negative consequences of the threat (i.e., relapse).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-85
Number of pages21
JournalWestern Journal of Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Western States Communication Association.


  • Counterarguing
  • Inoculation
  • Interrupted Design
  • Qualitative Analysis
  • Resistance
  • Thematic Analysis
  • Threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


Dive into the research topics of 'Experiencing Inoculation: A Qualitative Analysis of an Interrupted Message Design'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this