Language of motivation and emotion in an Internet support group for smoking cessation: explorative use of automated content analysis to measure regulatory focus
Jan-Are K Johnsen,1 Sara M Vambheim,2 Rolf Wynn,3,4 Silje C Wangberg3,5
1Department of Clinical Dentistry, University of Tromsø, 2Department of Psychology, University of Tromsø, 3Division of Addiction and Specialized Psychiatry, University Hospital of North-Norway, 4Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, 5Narvik University College, Narvik, Norway
Abstract: The present study describes a novel approach to the identification of the motivational processes in text data extracted from an Internet support group (ISG) for smoking cessation. Based on the previous findings that a “prevention” focus might be more relevant for maintaining behavior change, it was hypothesized that 1) language use (ie, the use of emotional words) signaling a “promotion” focus would be dominant in the initiating stages of the ISG, and 2) that the proportion of words signaling a prevention focus would increase over time. The data were collected from the ISG site, spanning 4 years of forum activity. The data were analyzed using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count application. The first hypothesis – of promotion focus dominance in the initiating stages – was not supported during year 1. However, for all the other years measured, the data showed that a prevention failure was more dominant compared with a promotion failure. The results indicate that content analysis could be used to investigate motivational and language-driven processes in ISGs. Understanding the interplay between self-regulation, lifestyle change, and modern communication channels could be of vital importance in providing the public with better health care services and interventions.
Keywords: self-regulation, behavior change, emotion, prevention
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