Helping on Social Media Self-Persuasion and Question-Behavior Effects

T van Steen, BCN Muller, S Li, JGB Loman, M Buijzen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Direct persuasion (i.e., providing people with arguments in favor of a certain behavior) can activate resistance in the receiver and, thus, result in a hampered influence attempt. More promising techniques to influence people s behavior are self-persuasion (SP; i.e., asking people to generate arguments themselves) and the question behavior effect (QBE; i.e., asking people to predict their future behavior), which can be easily implemented in social media settings. As both rely differently on message elaboration and focus on different outcomes, we investigated whether SP or QBE is more effective in a social media setting to increase helping behavior. In a between-subjects design, participants viewed an online Facebook group related to United World Schools and either (a) read arguments regarding helping others (direct persuasion), (b) provided arguments regarding helping others (SP), or (c) stated whether they intended to help others (QBE), while their message elaboration was assessed. We hypothesized that both SP and QBE would positively impact attitudes and levels of helping behavior compared to the direct persuasion condition. Additionally, we hypothesized that QBE and SP are equally effective in changing behavior, but that SP is more effective than QBE in changing attitudes toward helping, especially when participants strongly elaborate on their own arguments regarding the positive aspects of helping. Results showed no evidence of SP and QBE influencing attitudes toward helping and helping behavior. For behavioral intentions, some, albeit limited, evidence was found that SP and QBE can have an effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-119
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Media Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

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