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Trait-agreeableness influences individual reactions to a physician's affiliative behavior in a simulated bad news delivery health communication
We tested whether the personality trait of agreeableness predicts different individual reactions to the level of nonverbal affiliativeness shown by a physician, in the context of a simulated bad news delivery. We predicted that individuals with high levels of agreeableness would react better to a physician adopting a highly affiliative communication style compared to individuals with low levels of agreeableness. We used an experimental design with analogue patients. Eighty participants (40 men/40 women) were randomly assigned to watch a video of a physician who communicated a bad diagnosis either in a highly affiliative or in a less affiliative way. Participants reported their reactions of anger and trust in the physician, and completed the agreeableness scale of the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI). In accordance with our predictions, the higher the agreeableness score of the participants, the less anger and the more trust they reported after viewing the high as compared to the low affiliative physician. These results suggest that people with high levels of agreeableness may be especially sensitive to highly affiliative physician nonverbal behavior when receiving bad news.
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