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The third person effect and the acceptance of threatening road safety television advertising: Are current advertisements ineffective for male road users?

Lewis, Ioni M., Watson, Barry C., & Tay, Richard S. (2003) The third person effect and the acceptance of threatening road safety television advertising: Are current advertisements ineffective for male road users? In 2003 Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference, 24-26 September 2003, Sydney, NSW.

Abstract

Within communication literature, a substantial body of research supports the existence of a phenomenon referred to as the Third-Person Effect (TPE). The classis TPE proposes that individuals exposed to a media message will perceive the communication as being of more relevance to and greater influence on others than on themselves. However, most studies demonstrating this perceptual phenomenon have utilised negative media content such as violence or pornography with minimal research examining the TPE with positive content such public health and safety campaigns. Moreover, among the limited number of studies that have used positive content, inconsistent results have been found including reversed third-person perceptions whereby individuals have perceived the communication as being of greater relevance to themselves than others. Whilst road safety campaigns as a whole may be regarded as positive content, it is unclear whether audiences would perceive threatening appeals, a frequent advertising approach in the road safety context, as positive or negative. Thus this study explored whether classic or reverse third-person perceptions were associated with threatening road safety advertisements. A sample of 152 drivers viewed two threatening advertisements targeting speeding and drink driving and subsequently completed a questionnaire measuring their perceptions and future driving intentions. Results indicated a significant gender difference with females reporting reverse third-person perceptions (i.e., the messages were more relevant to themselves than others) and males reporting classic third-person perceptions (i.e., the messages were more relevant to others than themselves). Consistent with such perceptions, females reported stronger message acceptance than males. The results of this study have important theoretical and policy implications. Theoretically, it extends upon contemporary understanding of factors influencing message acceptance in the fear appeal literature. Regarding policy, it has implications for the design of future road safety advertisements. It suggests that threatening advertisements whilst relevant for some segments of the audience may not be relevant for the entire audience.

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ID Code: 9685
Item Type: Conference Paper
Additional URLs:
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100) > Communication and Media Studies not elsewhere classified (200199)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > TRANSPORTATION AND FREIGHT SERVICES (150700) > Road Transportation and Freight Services (150703)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Health Promotion (111712)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2003 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 25 Sep 2007
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 22:46

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