Date of Award

Fall 12-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Speech Communication

Committee Chair

Dr. Susan Siltanen

Committee Chair Department

Communication Studies

Committee Member 2

Dr. Keith Erickson

Committee Member 2 Department

Communication Studies

Committee Member 3

Dr. Lawrence Hosman

Committee Member 3 Department

Communication Studies

Committee Member 4

Dr. John Meyer

Committee Member 4 Department

Communication Studies

Committee Member 5

Dr. Charles Tardy

Committee Member 5 Department

Communication Studies

Abstract

This study evaluated persuasive messages that advocate support for a ban against cell phones while driving using Petty and Cacioppo's Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion as its theoretical framework. Seven hypotheses were tested using a 2 x 2 x 2 factorial design assessing the influence of need for cognition (high vs. low) in tandem with the variables of message framing (gain vs. loss statements) and message form (questions vs. statements) upon assessments of elaboration (ME), cognition message value (CMV), message effectiveness ratings (MEF), and attitude toward the prescribed behavior (ATPB).

A significant main effect was found for message framing as positively framed messages produced more positive ratings for CMV, the degree to which individuals found the advocacy to be intellectually stimulating and worthwhile as vehicles for persuasion.

A pair of significant two way interactions were detected as: (1) High need for cognition individuals registered a stronger commitment toward the prescribed behavior ("don't use a cell phone while driving") when exposed to negatively framed messages and (2) Low cognition receivers exposed to negatively framed messages registered a greater willingness to adopt the targeted behavior, future intent not to use a cell phone while driving. This latter result partially contradicted the original hypothesis.

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