How do Emerging Adults Respond to Exercise Advice from Parents? A Test of Advice Response Theory

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Journal of Social and Personal Relationships






Sage Publications Ltd.

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Advice response theory (ART) proposes advisor characteristics, advice politeness, and advice content impact recipient perceptions of advice quality, their intention to implement the advice, and their coping. However, ART has primarily been examined in friend-to-friend advising on academic, romantic, or social issues. To test ART in an understudied relational and topical context, emerging adults (N = 196, aged 18–28 years) were surveyed about physical activity or exercise advice they received from a parent. Current findings supported propositions about advisor characteristics and politeness, and parent–child relational elements were particularly salient. Emerging adults satisfied with their parent–child relationship rated all advice features and outcomes more favorably, and participants who reported their parents conveyed that the participant was approved of, competent, and likeable rated all outcomes more favorably. Counter to ART predictions, emerging adults displayed psychological reactance to certain message content features, responding favorably to advice they perceived to propose an efficacious solution but reacting negatively to advice perceived to emphasize their capability of performing the action and the lack of drawbacks in doing so (especially when feelings of obligation were high). ART propositions about advisor characteristics and politeness may hold across advice situations, but the parent–child dynamic during emerging adulthood and inherent face threat for health influence attempts may explain why certain formulations of advice messages elicited responses inconsistent with ART.

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