Overcoming the resistance of the persuasive message receiver is one of the key challenges in social marketing and health promotion. In this article two experiments are presented testing the impact of counterfactual priming (the process of mind simulations of alternative scenarios) on the effectiveness of subsequent persuasive communication. Participants were presented with stories triggering upward counterfactual thinking (imagining better states) or downward (imagining worse states) and stories, which did not trigger such simulation. In the first experiment, counterfactual priming contributed to an increase in the willingness to sign up for a self-defence course after reading a leaflet advertising such a course. And the second experiment pointed out, that counterfactual priming leads to a higher level of cognitive involvement with the message from the leaflet on breast self-examination and also higher intentions to develop one's knowledge on breast examination. The impact of counterfactual priming on the attitudes, self-efficacy, observed risk of developing a breast cancer, and likelihood of examining one's breasts in the future are also discussed.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.