The effect of a values affirmation intervention on perceived threat of genetically modified organisms
Marvelli, Cari L.
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SubjectResearch Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences::Psychology; Cognitive psychology; Social psychology; Values affirmation intervention; Psychological threat; Risk; Motivated reasoning; Cognitive biases; Information processing; Conspiratorial ideation; Backfire effect; Genetically modified organisms
By self-affirming core values, individuals appear to be able to assess threatening information more objectively and less defensively (Cohen et al., 2000; Correll, 2000; Steele & Liu, 1983). In spite of a scientific consensus on the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), cognitive and affective constructs known to influence information processing seem to combine to produce a perception of threat, resulting in negative attitudes toward GMOs (Blanke et al., 2015), which can lead to disruptions in research and development related to this biotechnology (Lucht, 2015). The present study attempted to show that threats associated with GMOs would be buffered using a Values Affirmation (VA) intervention. It was further hypothesized that correlations would exist between a) trust in sources and information (TISI) and pre-test GMO attitudes, b) conspiracy ideation (CI) and pre-test GMO attitudes, and c) CI and TISI. It was further hypothesized that CI would predict a significant amount of variance in post-test GMO attitudes. Eighty individuals participated in either an in-person or online version of the study. An ANCOVA revealed that the VA intervention did not significantly affect individuals’ post-test GMO attitudes. However, correlation and regression analyses supported the latter hypotheses. This study was unable to support previous research on the effectiveness of the VA tool in diminishing threat perceptions of a controversial scientific technology, but it did suggest that both CI and TISI are significantly associated with GMO attitudes.
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