Unhealthy eating behavior has become a global health risk and thus needs to be influenced. Previous research has found that self-persuasion is more effective than direct persuasion in changing attitudes and behavioral intentions, but the influence of the cultural backgrounds of those being persuaded remains unclear. We conducted two studies to investigate the effectiveness of self-persuasion and direct persuasion techniques in promoting healthy eating intention among different ethnicities in the Netherlands. Native Dutch, Moroccan–Dutch, and Turkish–Dutch participated both online and offline. Participants saw a poster with either a self-persuasion message (“Why would you choose healthier food?”) or a direct persuasion message (“Choose healthier food!”), and were then asked to report their intention to eat healthily in the upcoming month. Significant cultural differences were found between native Dutch and Moroccan–Dutch in Study 1, and between the native Dutch and Turkish-Dutch who participated offline in Study 2. Accordingly, cultural background was found to moderate the relationship between persuasion and healthy eating intention among these groups. These results provided preliminary evidence for the moderation effect of persuasion on healthy eating intention: Self-persuasion appears to be more effective for people with an individualistic background, and direct persuasion appears to be more effective for people with a collectivistic background.
Keywords: self-persuasion, direct persuasion, cultural background, healthy eating intention, persuasion communication
International journal of environmental research and public health