Entertainment Education programs have been found to create awareness and behavioral changes on social and health issues. The traditional definition of E-E refers to entertainment programs that are designed to convey known, prosocial effects to viewers. The wide range of definitions that describe E-E can be attributed to the variety of goals in E-E programming. Some programs are focused on informing viewers whereas others are focused on changing attitudes or behaviors.
The Extended Elaboration Likelihood Model highlights E-E’s role of resistance and narrative engagement. The Entertainment Overcoming Resistance Model was thus introduced as a way to consider how E-E programs can overcome resistance. EORM states that transportation, identification, similarity, and PSI help overcome various types of resistance to persuasion—enhancing persuasive outcomes.
The article examines how narrative transportation and character involvement reduce three forms of resistance: reactance, counter arguing, and perceived vulnerability. It compares effects between a dramatic-narrative and nonnarrative program that highlighted consequences of unplanned teen pregnancies. It revealed that the dramatic narrative reduced reactance, fostered parasocial interactions, and decreased perceptions of persuasive intent. Identification with characters in the narrative was found to reduce counterarguing— increasing perceived vulnerabilities to unplanned pregnancies. Transportation into the dramatic narrative though, was associated with counterarguing, contrary to the expectations.
Furthermore, noticing a hidden agenda to promote healthy behavior, disguised as entertainment was found to arouse reactance, while a more straightforward attempt to persuade, did not. This is an interesting find and I really liked the suggestions to address such behavior. The authors suggest that E-E creators should begin by first understanding the forms of resistance that operate within their targeted audience, since there are different types of resistance. It is suggested that perceived persuasive intent to be kept lower for audiences with high reactance and to use characters that users can bond with. Another suggestion is to focus on production features that facilitate empathy when the goal is to increase perceived vulnerability, rather than developing similar characters. These suggestions can be very helpful for E-E creators that want to communicate social issues. Being too pushy or being too cunning could turn the audience off to what you are trying to say, especially if it is a controversial topic for the viewer to begin with. So, using a charismatic character as a vehicle to carry the message seems to be a logical approach to me. The suggestion to focus less on the character but more on production features, when the goal is to increase perceived vulnerability, is a bit harder for me to grasp. Perhaps the idea is that in order to increase awareness a mere character would not suffice.
Koops van ’t Jagt, R., Hoeks, J. C. J., Duizer … (2017) conducted research to find out how a Spanish fotonovela (similar to a comic book), about diabetes communicated E-E messaging to high and low proficiency Dutch readers. The results found that when it comes to diabetes knowledge, readers of the fotonovela outperformed participants that were given a traditional brochure. This was true for both high and low proficiency readers. However, they did not score significantly higher than traditional brochure readers when it came to behavioral intentions. The researchers state that perhaps the lack of focus on measuring behavioral intentions could be a reason for the lack of visibility into behavioral significance and that in similar studies behavioral intention too had been found to be significant from E-E exposure.
I think EORM could be applied for advertising efforts, especially when advertising healthcare related products. However, if the advertisement is seen as too cunning or crafty, audiences might display reactance. So, advertising professionals would have to focus a lot on characters as well production features to evoke empathy. In practicality, this approach would be quite difficult to achieve in short 30 second – 1-minute advertisements. However, if advertising efforts were to focus on longer-formats, leveraging EORM could benefit both advertisers as well as audiences, especially when it comes to imparting knowledge.
My question to you is: would you be interested in product marketing efforts that utilize the EORM model? Where would you think such ads would be appropriate? For example, would you be receptive if an EORM ad was playing on your Facebook feed, interrupting something you were watching, or would you rather prefer that it shows up in search results when you are searching for a potential health concern? So, for example, you suspect you might have arthritis and you are trying to find more information on YouTube and happen to come across an E-E video series on YouTube about a character that suffers from similar health issues, would you prefer that piece over something that is served on your Facebook feed?
Koops van ’t Jagt, R., Hoeks, J. C. J., Duizer, E., Baron, M., Molina, G. B., Unger, J. B., & Jansen, C. J. M. (2017). Sweet Temptations: How Does Reading a Fotonovela About Diabetes Affect Dutch Adults with Different Levels of Literacy? Health Communication, 33(3), 284–290. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2016.1258617