Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effects of Hiv/aids Public Service Announcements on Attitude and Behavior: Interplay of Perceived Threat and Self-Efficacy

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effects of Hiv/aids Public Service Announcements on Attitude and Behavior: Interplay of Perceived Threat and Self-Efficacy

Article excerpt

Young people in the United States are at persistent risk of HIV infection. In 2011, 15- to 29-year-olds accounted for 36.08% of the estimated 49,273 new cases of infection with HIV (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). In this study we examined how HIV/AIDS public service announcements (PSAs) affected perceived threat of contracting HIV/AIDS among at-risk young adults. We also studied the interplay of perceived threat and self-efficacy in affecting attitude and behavior toward condom use, and tested whether or not the effects differed by sexual partner type.

Literature Review

The Impact of Fear Content on Perceived Threat

A fear appeal has often been used in past AIDS PSAs (Freimuth, Hammond, Edgar, & Monahan, 1990). Fearful content increases perceived threat, which comprises both perceived severity - one's perception of the seriousness of contracting the illness - and perceived susceptibility - one's perception of the likelihood of contracting the disease (Rimal, Böse, Brown, Mkandawire, & Folda, 2009; Witte, 1994). In the impersonal impact hypothesis it is asserted that media affect societal, but not personal, risk perception, whereas in the differential impact hypothesis it is posited that media affect personal risk judgment under such conditions as high risk and self-relevance (Tyler & Cook, 1984). Vivid AIDS information increased perceived personal risk (Snyder & Rouse, 1995). Thus, we predicted:

Hypothesis 1: Participants will exhibit higher perceived threat after exposure to AIDS PSAs than before exposure.

Attitudinal and Behavioral Outcomes of Media Interventions

Zimmerman et al. (2007) found that a three-month-long safer sex PSA campaign increased condom use among at-risk young adults. However, a one-time exposure to PSAs may facilitate attitudinal rather than behavioral change. In the elaboration likelihood model (ELM) central and peripheral routes of information processing are posited (Cacioppo & Petty, 1984; Petty & Wegener, 1998). PSAs tend to trigger the peripheral route, as they are brief messages that may not allow high-effort elaboration (Comstock & Scharrer, 1999).

Outcomes of HIV/AIDS media interventions may depend on sexual partner type. Wolitski et al. (1999) found that, among people at high risk, a small-media intervention (e.g., newsletters, pamphlets) was more effective in increasing condom use with nonmain partners than with main partners. A main partner is a person to whom a participant feels committed above anyone else; nonmain partners include casual acquaintances, paying partners, and one-night stands.

Effects of Perceived Threat and Self-Efficacy on Attitude and Behavior

In the extended parallel process model (EPPM; Smith, Ferrara, & Witte, 2007; Witte, 1994) and the risk perception attitude (RPA) framework (Rimal et al., 2009), the interplay of perceived threat and efficacy beliefs in affecting attitude and behavior is posited. Self-efficacy is one's beliefs in one's ability to perform a task (Bandura, 1986), such as taking recommended action to avert a health threat. It is argued in EPPM that people with high levels of both perceived threat and self-efficacy tend to take protective behaviors to avert the threat as long as perceived threat does not exceed self-efficacy. In contrast, people with high perceived threat and low self-efficacy cope with the fear but do not act to prevent the danger. In the RPA framework the first of these two conditions is referred to as responsive, and the latter is termed avoidant. It is also suggested in the RPA framework that people with low perceived threat and strong efficacy beliefs tend to hold a proactive attitude but do not act, and that people with low levels of both perceived threat and efficacy beliefs tend to hold an indifferent attitude and do not act (Rimal et al., 2009, p. 211). We predicted:

Hypothesis 2: When perceived threat is higher after exposure to PSAs, participants will hold more positive attitudes toward condom use with main and nonmain partners than they will before exposure. …

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