The Relationship between the Third-Person Effect and the Acceptance of Fear-Based Road Safety Advertisements

Lewis, Ioni M., Tay, Richard S., & Watson, Barry C. (2003) The Relationship between the Third-Person Effect and the Acceptance of Fear-Based Road Safety Advertisements. In Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy, 1-3 December 2003, Adelaide, Australia.


Threat-based messages that appeal to the emotion of fear have been widely used in the social marketing of public health including road safety, AIDS/HIV awareness, and anti-smoking. However, despite their popularity and over five decades of research into the fear-persuasion relationship, an unequivocal answer regarding their effectiveness remains unachieved. More contemporary fear appeal research has begun exploring the extent other variables moderate this relationship. In this study, a phenomenon from the communication literature, known as the third-person effect (TPE), was examined to explore its association with the extent individuals reported intentions to adopt the recommendations (i.e., message acceptance) of two fear-based road safety advertisements. In contrast to the classic TPE hypothesis, this study found that individuals acknowledged more personal persuasiveness relative to other drivers in general. Moreover, reverse third-person differential perception scores were significantly associated with increased message acceptance. Additionally, two hierarchical regressions revealed that third-person differential perception scores contributed to the prediction of message acceptance for both the speeding and drink driving advertisement beyond the contribution of other variables previously established by the fear appeal literature as relating to message acceptance. This finding should be of particular significance for social marketers given that reverse third-person perceptions may act to predispose an individual to adopting the recommendations of a health message.

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ID Code: 3773
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: The contents of this conference can be freely accessed online via the organisation's web page (see link).
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Road safety advertising, fear appeals, third, person effect, drink driving, speeding
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2003 Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy
Deposited On: 24 Mar 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 12:58

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