Increased Attention for Computer-Tailored Health Communications: An Event-Related Potential Study

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Abstract

The authors tested whether individually tailored health communications receive more attention from the reader than nontailored health communications in a randomized, controlled trial among student volunteers (N = 24). They used objective measures of attention allocation during the message exposure. In a between-subjects design, participants had to read tailored or nontailored nutrition education messages and at the same time had to pay attention to specific odd auditory stimuli in a sequence of frequent auditory stimuli (odd ball paradigm). The amount of attention allocation was measured by recording event-related potentials (ERPs; i.e., N100 and P300 ERPs) and reaction times. For the tailored as opposed to the nontailored group, results revealed larger amplitudes for the N100 effect, smaller amplitudes for the P300 effect, and slower reaction times. Resource allocation theory and these results suggest that those in the tailored group allocated more attention resources to the nutrition message than those in the nontailored group.

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