My body is ____; attitudes towards organ donation

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Kilby, C, Moloney, G & Stevens, C 2018, 'My body is ____; attitudes towards organ donation', abstract presented to the 15th Annual Psychology Honours Research Conference, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, 4-5 October.

Abstract available on Open Access

Peer Reviewed



Aim: Metaphors are linguistic devices that assist in making unfamiliar concepts more familiar, and have been used to explore attitudes towards various social issues (e.g., organ donation and conception). In Australia, organ donation wishes can be registered on the Australian Organ Donor Register, yet less than a third of Australians have done so. We explored whether metaphors used to describe the body in relation to organ donation were reflective of beliefs held about organ donation and, in turn, registration behaviour. We were also interested in whether physical fitness levels were related to metaphors used to describe the body. Method: In Phase 1, 158 participants (M= 16, F= 103) from one SCU campus wrote metaphors describing their body in relation to organ donation. In Phase 2, 150 participants (M= 38, F= 117) from the remaining SCU campuses rated the five most frequently suggested metaphors from Phase 1 along with five metaphors from a previous study of body perceptions and organ donation attitudes. Participants also volunteered information on their physical fitness, exercise habits and donor registration status. Results: Principal Components Analysis revealed two factors best represented the metaphors associated with the body in relation to organ donation; interpreted as ‘my body is mine’ and ‘my body is not mine’, with participants agreeing with ‘my body is mine’ more than ‘my body is not mine’. However, no significant differences were found between these factors and donation attitudes, registration behaviour and fitness levels. Significant relationships were found between exercise duration, certain exercise preferences and the metaphor ‘my body is an ox’. Conclusion: This study tentatively suggests that perceptions about fitness and exercise may be related to metaphors used to describe the body and, with further research, these metaphors could be used to engage the public with organ donation registration.