Fear campaigns and control appraisals: creating messages that matter in road safety

Pedruzzi, Rebecca A., Swinbourne, Anne L., and Quirk, Frances (2016) Fear campaigns and control appraisals: creating messages that matter in road safety. Road and Transport Research, 25 (3). pp. 28-39.

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In Australia road safety advertising often highlights the consequences of risky driving through the portrayal of graphic car crash scenes. Many health promotion researchers have cautioned that employing these types of messages may be ineffective and lead to defensive responses such as avoidance, particularly where efficacy perceptions are low. Identifying road outcomes characterised by high perceived control in populations may be crucial to overcoming avoidance and consequently aid in the creation of effective messages. However, such hypotheses are rarely examined. The present study employed a within subjects design where community participants (n = 228) read information highlighting the risks of dangerous driving. The information portrayed risky behaviour leading to road crash and legal sanction outcomes in two separate essays. The delivery of the information was counterbalanced and recall for each message was measured using surprise recall tasks. Perceptions of risk and efficacy were also assessed for both outcomes. Results demonstrated that threat and efficacy appraisals were independently related to recall of the legal sanction information. Specifically, increases in threat and efficacy were related to increases in recall. No such relationships were demonstrated for the crash outcome information. These findings suggest that the identification of controllable outcomes may be the key to overcoming avoidance of threatening road safety advertisements. Results are discussed in light of current fear appeal theory and best practice health promotion in road safety.

Item ID: 46545
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1037-5783
Keywords: road safety; control; safety campaigns; fear appeal
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This paper was originally prepared for presentation at the 16th International Conference on Traffic and Transport Psychology in Brisbane, August 2016, and has been selected as one of the best 'young researcher' papers at the Conference. It has been accepted for publication with revisions after being critically reviewed by at least two recognised experts in the relevant field.

Funders: Australian Postgraduate Award (APA)
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2017 01:48
FoR Codes: 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5203 Clinical and health psychology > 520304 Health psychology @ 40%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420603 Health promotion @ 60%
SEO Codes: 88 TRANSPORT > 8801 Ground Transport > 880109 Road Safety @ 100%
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