The Effects of Using Socio-culturally Targeted Communications on the Uptake and Adherence to Positive Psychology Interventions

  • Jason Moran
  • Zelda di Blasi
  • Annalisa SettiEmail author


Younger populations are less likely to engage with Positive Psychology Interventions (PPIs) while potentially benefiting from them; and socially disadvantaged individuals have been shown to have lower levels of well-being, therefore also potentially befitting from PPIs. Online dissemination could be a means to reach these populations, however adherence to such interventions is often low. We aimed to test whether tailoring the message to the target demographics socio-cultural characteristics can promote adherence to the Three Blessings PPI, more-so than the expert heuristic. Participants (n = 261) were randomly assigned to one of three videos explaining the PPI, and then self-reported uptake and adherence rates were recorded. Video 1 was the original PPI video by Martin Seligman. Video 2, utilized the similarity heuristic, matching the target demographics using visual socio-cultural markers (clothes style)—but not linguistically. Video 3 matched the target demographics linguistically (slang/swear language) in addition to the visual markers used in Video 2. Greater uptake and adherence was expected for Video 1, if the expert heuristic was more effective. Greater uptake and adherence was expected for Video 2, and more-so Video 3 if the similarity heuristic was more effective. Results suggest that the similarity heuristics utilized in the study influenced adherence for younger cohorts, but not uptake. This finding has important implications when targeting specific groups for PPIs. The response rate data also provides useful insights for both researchers and positive psychology practitioners. Future research is needed on different samples representative of different sub-cultures and demographic characteristics in the population.


Expert heuristic Similarity heuristic Targeting Online intervention Uptake Adherence Positive interventions Three blessings 



This project was conducted as part of the Jason Moran Masters thesis in Coaching Psychology, supervised by Dr. Annalisa Setti. The authors would like to thank [name], who was the actor in the videos.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University College CorkCorkIreland

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