Doctoral Dissertation Research in DRMS: The Impact of Senstaion Seeking and Cultural Orientation on the Effects of Fear Appeal Messages-- A Four-Country Study

  • Zimmerman, Rick (PI)
  • CHEAH, WAI (CoI)

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The use of fear appeals to enhance perceptions of risk and to modify attitudes and behaviors has been a common practice among public health practitioners. Although studies have shown that fear appeal messages work, no specific studies have systematically examined how specific audiences, particularly high and low sensation seekers, are persuaded or not persuaded by fear appeal messages. Sensation seeking is a personality trait, an individual's need for novel sensations and experiences and the willingness to take risks for the sake of those experiences. Fear appeal studies conducted in the U.S., primarily by Witte and her colleagues have focused solely on the use of physical threat as the stimulus of the fear appeal message with little emphasis placed on the use of social threat. There has not been a focus on understanding how social threat may be perceived in communities that are more collectivistic, as opposed to individualistic, in their cultural orientation. The primary goal of this research is to assess how sensation seeking and cultural orientation influence the way young adults process messages that focus on preventing a sexually transmitted infection. Findings from this research will help strengthen the theory of fear appeals, particularly Witte's extended parallel processing model. The findings will contribute to knowledge that practitioners can use to improve to public education strategies.
Effective start/end date9/1/038/31/04


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