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Dolores Albarracín, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Dolores Albarracín.
Dolores Albarracín.

Communication and Thought for Action
Dolores Albarracín is a professor of Psychology and Business at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and former Martin Fishbein Professor of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Abstract: This talk will discuss how we think and communicate about action, as well as the implications of these processes for behavioral enactment. I will review three domains of findings from my research on action and inaction: (a) judgment, (b) communication, and (c) choice architecture. With respect to judgments, across countries, especially Western ones, action is perceived as more beneficial and desirable than inaction. Action is also considered to be more goal-directed than inaction, and systematically shifting the goal-directed or intentional nature of actions and inactions modifies evaluations. In the area of communication, actionable messages are more efficacious than non-actionable ones. For example, active, behavioral-skills messages in the health domain change behavior more than behavior-irrelevant, passive messages. One apparent exception to the advantage of active messages occurs in the area of choice architecture. A common finding is that allowing passive consent (active opt-out to avoid being an organ donor) produces more compliance than requiring active opt-in. However, I will show when active choice increases compliance with target policies.

About the Speaker

Dolores Albarracín, the Amy Gutmann Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor and director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center's Communication Science division, studies the impact of communication and persuasion on human behavior and the formation of beliefs, attitudes, and goals, particularly those that are socially beneficial. In addition to an interest in basic attitudinal processes, she is interested in finding ways of intervening to promote public health. Born in Argentina, Albarracín received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1997, and was previously a tenured professor at the University of Florida and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Albarracín has published close to 200 journal articles and book chapters in leading scientific outlets, including the leading outlets of psychology, health, and science, and has had an important impact on national health communication policy. Her research is an unusual combination of basic and applied psychology. Albarracín was the 2018 inaugural recipient of the Award for Outstanding Scientific Contributions to Research on Attitudes and Social Influence and the 2020 Diener Award to Outstanding Mid-Career Contributions in Social Psychology from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. She is also the 2019 recipient of the Avant-Garde Award, National Institute of Drug Abuse, which supports individual scientists of exceptional creativity who propose high-impact, bold basic research that will open new areas of HIV/AIDS research and/or lead to new avenues for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS among people who use drugs. She has been elected President of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and is a fellow of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Society for Health Psychology. She was Editor-in-chief of Psychological Bulletin between 2014 and 2020. Albarracín is the author of six books, including The Handbook of Attitudes (Routledge, 2018). Her 2021 book published by Cambridge University Press integrates her theoretical and applied contributions and is titled Action and Inaction in a Social World: Prediction and Change of Attitudes and Behaviors. Her forthcoming book is titled Creating Conspiracy Beliefs: How about Thoughts are Formed (Cambridge University Press). Her work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.