Victoria Ledford

New CHRC Alumna and Student Research on Messages and Opioid Use Disorders Published in Health Communication

Ma, Z., Ma, R., & Ledford, V. (2022). Is My Story Better Than His Story? Understanding the Effects and Mechanisms of Narrative Point of View in the Opioid Context. Health Communication, 1-9.

Sharing the stories of people whose lives are impacted by Opioid Use Disorders (OUDs) can be a promising strategy to reduce stigma and increase support for beneficial public policies. Since a story can be told from a first-person or third-person point of view (POV), this study sought to (1) determine the relative persuasive effects of narrative POV and (2) identify the underlying psychological mechanisms, including character identification and psychological reactance, of such narratives. A one-way between-subjects experiment was conducted among a college student sample (N = 276). Narrative POV was manipulated by describing a college student’s OUD experience from either the first- or third-person POV. Findings demonstrated that POV did not influence identification but had a significant effect on reactance. Specifically, the first-person (vs. third-person) POV narrative led to lower reactance, which was associated with participants’ decreased desire to socially distance themselves from people with OUDs and stronger support for public health-oriented policies regarding OUDs. This study sheds light on the mixed findings revealed in the literature and has practical importance in health message design in the current opioid epidemic.