The feasibility of the step approach to message design and testing to enhance the persuasive impact of emotion-based road safety messages

Lewis, Ioni, Watson, Barry, White, Katherine M., Elliott, Barry, Cockfield, Samantha, & Thompson, John (2014) The feasibility of the step approach to message design and testing to enhance the persuasive impact of emotion-based road safety messages. In Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014 National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media, 19-21 August 2014, Atlanta, GA. (Unpublished)

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Theoretical Background and research questions/hypothesis: Empirical evidence provides support for the increasing persuasive impact of health communication campaigns devised in accordance with a sound, underpinning theoretical framework. The application of a theoretical framework, in turn, also assists with assessing the persuasive impact of health communication messages given that it aids in identifying the extent to which such messages succeeded (or failed) to operationalize key constructs. Despite acknowledgement of the important role of theory, health communication campaigns have been criticized historically for failing to use a guiding theory. Australian road safety advertising campaigns are no exception, having also been criticized for being atheoretical in their development. This presentation will overview the extent to which a program of research to develop and test the persuasiveness of a series of road safety messages was guided by the Step approach to Message Design and Testing (SatMDT) framework. This framework, devised by members of the research team, incorporates key constructs derived from social psychological literatures on persuasion and attitude-behaviour relations.

Methods and Results (informing the conceptual analysis): To demonstrate the steps and features of the SatMDT, this presentation will draw upon, as an example, a large program of research which sought to devise the content and, ultimately, test the persuasive effects of innovative emotion-based anti-speeding messages targeting young male drivers. The program of research, funded by an Australian Research Council linkage grant and partnered by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) of Victoria, demonstrated how, consistent with the framework, the research evolved through a series of studies involving both qualitative and quantitative methods. Details regarding each of the study’s methods are provided together with insight into how each study’s findings were used to inform subsequent research phases and, ultimately, to guide the development of message content. The findings are discussed in terms of the extent to which the SatMDT framework aids health message development and testing. Following the step-by-step approach of the model, the presentation highlights the important role played (and the research questions answered) by each study. For instance, an overview is provided of the insights garnered from the initial in-depth qualitative exploration of individuals’ salient motivations underpinning their speeding behaviour as well as strategies that they use to reduce their likelihood of engaging in speeding. The framework then extends through to concept testing involving both qualitative and quantitative methods, and incorporates a final study to test the persuasive effects of messages.

Conclusions: The research demonstrates the feasibility of a theoretical framework; namely, the SatMDT in aiding the development of message content and the testing of message persuasive effects.

Implications for research and/or practice: With theoretical campaigns identified as being more effective at achieving their objectives than atheoretical campaigns, there is need to identify suitable frameworks to aid future research and practice in health communication. The SatMDT is presented as one such framework which has been found to be both feasible and useful within the road safety advertising context. Further exploration of the framework is needed not only across different high risk driver behaviours and among varying populations but also in relation to persuasive messages addressing other health issues more broadly.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 98422
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Health Promotion (111712)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Social and Community Psychology (170113)
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
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 28 Aug 2016 23:56
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2016 23:56

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