Examining the effectiveness of physical threats in road safety advertising: The role of the third-person effect, gender, and age

Lewis, Ioni M., Watson, Barry C., & Tay, Richard S. (2007) Examining the effectiveness of physical threats in road safety advertising: The role of the third-person effect, gender, and age. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 10(1), pp. 48-60.

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Threatening advertisements have been widely used in the social marketing of road safety. 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 explored the extent other variables moderate this relationship. In this study, the third-person effect was examined to explore its association with the extent male and female drivers reported intentions to adopt the recommendations of two road safety advertisements depicting high physical threats. Drivers (N = 152) first provided responses on pre-exposure future driving intentions, subsequently viewed two advertisements, one anti-speeding and one anti-drink driving, followed by measurement of their perceptions and post-manipulation intentions. The latter measure, post-manipulation intentions, was taken as the level of message acceptance for each advertisement. Results indicated a significant gender difference with females reporting reverse third-person effects (i.e., the messages would have more influence on themselves than others) and males reporting classic third-person effects (i.e., the messages would have more influence on others than themselves). Consistent with such third-person effects, females reported greater intention not to speed and not to drink and drive after being exposed to the advertisements than males. To determine the extent that third-person differential perceptions contributed to variance explained in post-manipulation intentions, hierarchical regressions were conducted. These regressions revealed that third-person scores significantly contributed to the variance explained in post-manipulation intentions, beyond the contribution of other factors including demographic characteristics, pre-exposure intentions and past behaviour. The theoretical and applied implications of the results are discussed.

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52 citations in Scopus
45 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 5138
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Road safety advertising, threat appeals, third, person effect, gender
DOI: 10.1016/j.trf.2006.05.001
ISSN: 1369-8478
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 2007 Elsevier
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 22 Nov 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:34

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