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Abstract

This study tests whether the adaptation of a narrative's protagonist to be similar to readers increases narrative effects in the health domain. A between-subjects (N = 220) experiment was conducted that varied the similarity of the protagonist to the participants. Results showed that participants who read the version with a similar protagonist perceived themselves to be more at risk of the disease with which the protagonist was diagnosed and felt more efficacy to deal with the symptoms of this disease, than participants who read the version with a dissimilar protagonist. These effects were mediated by self-referencing, indicating that adaptation of a protagonist to be similar to readers makes readers relate the story to themselves, which in turn increases narrative impact.