Original Article

Using inspirational and humorous narratives as a Nudge towards health status disclosure

  • SIBYLLA VERDI HUGHES
  • DAVIDE PIETRONI

Pelviperineology 2015;34(4):117-120

The present paper discusses the third part of a series of papers that have investigated individuals biased cognitive and affective representations of the body’s parts, specifically the anal and genital regions and how these affect disclosure and help seeking. In our current study, we measured the impact of two types of interventions aimed at mitigating the stigma associated with these body parts which has been found in the previous two papers as strongly related with help seeking resistance. We presented participants with a nudge consisting of two texts created specifically to prime individuals to perceive the body parts investigated more favorably and even in a more ironic way. We found that both interventions, humor and the inspirational story about problems in the rectal region, were equally effective in contrasting stigmatization of the body part, i.e. to mitigate the perception of dirtiness, embarrassment, and disgust associated with both the anus and the genitals. Furthermore these nudges improved participants willingness to engage in a conversation about anus/genitals problems. Unexpectedly, the simple humorous story seemed more effective than the inspirational story as the latter risked to increase a sense of weakness and vulnerability associated to the area. The effectiveness of the intervention was affected by age and gender. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Keywords: Self-disclosure; Humor; Priming; Nudge; Storytelling; Body stigma.