Understanding text-based persuasion and support tactics of concerned significant others

Katherine van Stolk-Cooke, Marie Hayes, Amit Baumel, Frederick Muench

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The behavior of concerned significant others (CSOs) can have a measurable impact on the health and wellness of individuals attempting to meet behavioral and health goals, and research is needed to better understand the attributes of text-based CSO language when encouraging target significant others (TSOs) to achieve those goals. In an effort to inform the development of interventions for CSOs, this study examined the language content of brief text-based messages generated by CSOs to motivate TSOs to achieve a behavioral goal. CSOs generated brief text-based messages for TSOs for three scenarios: (1) to help TSOs achieve the goal, (2) in the event that the TSO is struggling to meet the goal, and (3) in the event that the TSO has given up on meeting the goal. Results indicate that there was a significant relationship between the tone and compassion of messages generated by CSOs, the CSOs' perceptions of TSO motivation, and their expectation of a grateful or annoyed reaction by the TSO to their feedback or support. Results underscore the importance of attending to patterns in language when CSOs communicate with TSOs about goal achievement or failure, and how certain variables in the CSOs' perceptions of their TSOs affect these characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1151
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Van Stolk-Cooke et al.


  • Behavior change
  • Computer-based communication
  • Concerned significant others
  • Language expectancy
  • Supportive communication
  • Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)


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