The persuasive effects of social media narrative PSAs on COVID-19 vaccination intention among unvaccinated young adults: the mediating role of empathy and psychological reactance

Youngjee Ko, Hanyoung Kim, Youngji Seo, Jeong Yeob Han, Hye Jin Yoon, Jongmin Lee, Ja Kyung Seo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Successful social marketing campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccination for the unvaccinated relies on increasing positive reactions but also reducing negative responses to persuasive messages. This study aims to investigate the relative effects of narrative vs non-narrative public service announcements (PSAs) promoting COVID-19 vaccination on both positive and negative reactions. Using social media as a tool for disseminating marketing campaigns provides a great opportunity to examine the effectiveness of narrative PSAs on vaccination intention, especially among unvaccinated young adults, who were the target audience of the social marketing. This study explores the role of empathy and psychological reactance as underlying mechanisms. Design/methodology/approach: An experiment involving unvaccinated young adults was conducted with a one-factor, two-condition (message type: narrative vs non-narrative) design. Findings: Results indicated that the narrative (vs non-narrative) PSAs led to greater empathy. While no direct effects of message type emerged on psychological reactance or vaccination intention, results of a serial multi-mediator model confirmed that empathy and psychological reactance mediated the effects of message type on vaccination intention. Originality/value: The study extends the understanding of narrative persuasion by examining an underlying mechanism behind narrative persuasion in a COVID-19 PSA. This study provides empirical evidence of the important role of empathy in processing narrative PSAs. Moreover, the current study expands narrative persuasion’s applicability to COVID-19 vaccination intervention messages for unvaccinated young adults, highlighting the effectiveness of narrative persuasion as a social marketing communication tool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-509
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social Marketing
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 10 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited.

Keywords

  • COVID-19 vaccination
  • Empathy
  • Narrative persuasion
  • Social marketing
  • Social media public service announcements (PSAs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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