Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Cynthia Hoffner, PhD

Second Advisor

Jay M. Bernhardt, PhD

Third Advisor

Gregory Lisby, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Holley Wilkin, PhD

Abstract

New advances in genetic screening now make it possible to determine if a person is more susceptible to certain types of cancer. In some cases, it may be advisable to promote consultations with heath care providers for genetic cancer screening among patients at risk for cancer. Using emotional appeals is one way to promote genetic cancer screening. The primary purpose of this study was to examine the role of the emotions of fear and hope in mediating the influence of emotion-framed PSAs. This study explored the relative effectiveness of a fear-framed video message and a hope-framed video message at influencing people’s attitudes toward genetic cancer screening and in persuading individuals at increased risk for cancer to talk to their doctors about genetic cancer screening. This study examined three different models of mediation: a model testing the mediation of framing effect on behavioral intent by attitude, a model testing the mediation of framing effect on attitude by both fear and hope, and a model testing the mediation of framing effect on behavioral intent by fear and hope. Overall, the fear-framed and hope-framed PSAs did not differ from a control group in terms of attitude toward genetic cancer screening, but both PSAs lead to greater intent to discuss genetic cancer screening with a health care provider (compared to the control group). Message frame had no significant indirect effect on behavioral intent through attitude toward genetic cancer screening. Likewise, message frame had no significant indirect effect on attitude toward genetic cancer screening through hope or fear. The study did find evidence that both discrete emotions mediated the effectiveness of message frame on intent to discuss genetic cancer screening with a health care provider, which was the health behavior targeted by the messages. These findings suggest that both hope and fear essentially transferred the effect of message frame onto behavioral intent and that both hope and fear were effective mediators of the framing effect.

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