Impact of Ethnic Identity and Ethnic Relevance of Health Information on Asian Americans' Preferences for E-Health Agents

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Abstract

Ethnic identity tends to predict same-ethnicity preference. However, very little research has tested the impact of ethnic identity across messages that bear distinct relevance with different groups. In Experiment 1, Asian American participants read 4 pieces of disease-related information presented by 2 Asian and 2 White agents on a computer. Both strong and weak ethnic identifiers gave higher credibility ratings of the agents when the agents' ethnicity matched with ethnic relevance of the information. Experiment 2 assessed ethnicity preference by allowing participants to choose agents for 4 healthy-food Websites and also found the agent–information matching pattern. Ethnic identity did not have an effect. The findings are discussed within a framework that contrasts a social-identity orientation and an external-content orientation.

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