Targeting Young Adult Smokers' Multiple Identity Gaps and Identity Management Strategies for Behavior Change: An Application of the Communication Theory of Identity

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/612611
Title:
Targeting Young Adult Smokers' Multiple Identity Gaps and Identity Management Strategies for Behavior Change: An Application of the Communication Theory of Identity
Author:
Stanley, Samantha Joan
Issue Date:
2016
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
The purpose of this thesis is to determine through focus groups and individual interviews the identity gaps experienced by young adult smokers, the strategies they enact to minimize or avoid identity gaps, and contexts in which layers of identity are aligned in order to target those sites in future smoking cessation health campaign messages. Engaging in stigmatized health behaviors, like smoking, impacts the messages individuals receive from other people and the media about their health, identity, and behaviors, and the way they communicate about themselves. Michael Hecht's (1994) communication theory of identity (CTI) explains the process of enacting and shaping identities through communication and provides the framework of this thesis. Identities consist of four interpenetrating layers: enacted, personal, relational, and communal. When there is a discrepancy between layers an identity gap occurs. Identity gaps are associated with uncomfortable dissonance and negative communication outcomes. However, identity gaps also present opportunities for targeted health messages that draw attention to dissonance as a motivational tactic and offer behavior change strategies to decrease gaps. I conducted four focus groups and ten interviews focusing on the daily experiences of 20 young adult smokers. Identity gaps emerged involving all four layers of identity, though personal-enacted, enacted-relational, and personal-relational identity gaps were reported most frequently. Strategies to manage identity gaps included lying about smoking, hiding the behavior of smoking, and gauging others' reactions prior to disclosing smoking status. Participants voiced contexts and relationships in which layers of identity aligned, including around other college-age individuals and friends. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are offered, including suggestions for health messages and interventions targeting management strategies and contexts where identity is aligned in order to decrease their efficacy and thus increase the magnitude of the already pervasive identity gaps young adults smokers experience in the hopes of motivating behavior change.
Type:
text; Electronic Thesis
Keywords:
health communication; identity; identity gaps; smokers; stigmatization; Communication; communication theory of identity
Degree Name:
M.A.
Degree Level:
masters
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Communication
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Pitts, Margaret J.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoen_USen
dc.titleTargeting Young Adult Smokers' Multiple Identity Gaps and Identity Management Strategies for Behavior Change: An Application of the Communication Theory of Identityen_US
dc.creatorStanley, Samantha Joanen
dc.contributor.authorStanley, Samantha Joanen
dc.date.issued2016-
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en
dc.description.abstractThe purpose of this thesis is to determine through focus groups and individual interviews the identity gaps experienced by young adult smokers, the strategies they enact to minimize or avoid identity gaps, and contexts in which layers of identity are aligned in order to target those sites in future smoking cessation health campaign messages. Engaging in stigmatized health behaviors, like smoking, impacts the messages individuals receive from other people and the media about their health, identity, and behaviors, and the way they communicate about themselves. Michael Hecht's (1994) communication theory of identity (CTI) explains the process of enacting and shaping identities through communication and provides the framework of this thesis. Identities consist of four interpenetrating layers: enacted, personal, relational, and communal. When there is a discrepancy between layers an identity gap occurs. Identity gaps are associated with uncomfortable dissonance and negative communication outcomes. However, identity gaps also present opportunities for targeted health messages that draw attention to dissonance as a motivational tactic and offer behavior change strategies to decrease gaps. I conducted four focus groups and ten interviews focusing on the daily experiences of 20 young adult smokers. Identity gaps emerged involving all four layers of identity, though personal-enacted, enacted-relational, and personal-relational identity gaps were reported most frequently. Strategies to manage identity gaps included lying about smoking, hiding the behavior of smoking, and gauging others' reactions prior to disclosing smoking status. Participants voiced contexts and relationships in which layers of identity aligned, including around other college-age individuals and friends. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are offered, including suggestions for health messages and interventions targeting management strategies and contexts where identity is aligned in order to decrease their efficacy and thus increase the magnitude of the already pervasive identity gaps young adults smokers experience in the hopes of motivating behavior change.en
dc.typetexten
dc.typeElectronic Thesisen
dc.subjecthealth communicationen
dc.subjectidentityen
dc.subjectidentity gapsen
dc.subjectsmokersen
dc.subjectstigmatizationen
dc.subjectCommunicationen
dc.subjectcommunication theory of identityen
thesis.degree.nameM.A.en
thesis.degree.levelmastersen
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen
thesis.degree.disciplineCommunicationen
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen
dc.contributor.advisorPitts, Margaret J.en
dc.contributor.committeememberRains, Stephen A.en
dc.contributor.committeememberBrooks, Catherine F.en
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