Identity campaigning in the US health sector

This blog was originally posted at Identity Campaigning.

Joe Brewer, a contributor to this site, has just publicised some work he’s done on ‘cognitive strategies’ in the health sector in the US. I think the ideas he develops are really import for identity campaigning, on several counts:

– they serve to draw a sharp distinction between a health campaign based on economic self-interest and one based on caring for others.

– they highlight the problems of conflating frames: whilst a ‘vision’ statement may assert that human dignity should motivate health care reform, communication materials deploy a “cost-savings” strategy.

– implicitly, they draw attention to the need to adopt the right frames across the full panoply of public policy. Environmentalists need to be concerned about the deep frames that health care policy helps to establish. As do those working on a range of other issues, from animal rights to third-world debt.

What Joe doesn’t do (but could easily do) is to draw attention to the evidence that appeals to more intrinsic and self-transcendent values and goals are more likely to motivate people to publicly voice a concern about health care policy.

Tom CromptonIdentity campaigning in the US health sector


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  • Joe Brewer - September 9, 2009 reply


    Good point about the role of intrinsic motivations. When I drafted that strategy brief, we hadn’t worked quite so closely together yet. Now I realize the importance of incorporating evidence from motivational psychology into the frame analysis.

    Also, the interested reader can find a wealth of additional materials on the cognitive dimension of health care here:

    Exploring Health Care

  • Jim Mitchell - September 14, 2009 reply

    Our preoccupation with narrow self interest (rather than the wider sort- it is definitely in all of our self interest to have a healthy planet!) can be seen also with the current debate about state spending cuts. Tax rises could also meet our national debt, but politicians and the media continue the need to talk about cutting spending, and the debate about a substantive tax rise (for middle and high earners) isn’t even on the table. Does anyone know of any work looking at how people would value societal changes based on their ability to pay? E.g. How much extra % would you pay for a high speed train network across Britain? Or how much to ensure a more efficient health service with more immediate access to services?

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