Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communication

Document Type



As one of the ways to persuade young people effectively, several scholars have indicated that using a tailored message that is consistent with individuals’ concerns and interests can influence their attitude and behavioral changes. Among diverse tactics to construct tailored health-messages, this research especially paid attention to individuals’ motivational goals (i.e., regulatory focus) that make them more inclined to a certain outcome. While promotion-oriented individuals primarily focus on how to achieve a desired ending, prevention-oriented individuals mainly focus on avoiding undesirable outcomes (Higgins, 1997; Higgins et al., 2001). Although numerous studies support the positive effects of the congruency between regulatory focus and message frame on persuasion, the researcher was concerned with the limited discussion about the effects of some message attributes (i.e., fear appeals) in tailored health-related Public Service Announcements (PSAs). In particular, a large number of health campaigns provide information in the context of highly emotive graphic images and text; however, the stimulus used in previous studies did not consider such factors’ possible moderating effects. In the context of an anti-binge drinking health campaign, the researcher therefore focused on how the level of fear in tailored messages influences college students’ perceptions of the message, their message processing, and their attitudes and behavioral changes. Using a 2 (regulatory focus: promotion vs. prevention) X 2 (message framing: gain vs. loss) X 2 (level of fear appeals: low vs. high) experimental design, the researcher found that messages that are consistent with individuals’ interests are more persuasive. When the tailored message contained a low fear appeal, more fluent message processing and greater perceptions of message relevance occurred, which in turn impacted persuasion. However, the findings indicate that message effectiveness should be discussed cautiously because the effectiveness of tailored messages is reduced when combined with a high fear appeal. Overall, this study advances our understanding of how a tailored message’s attributes influence individuals’ message processing and persuasion. The findings have practical and theoretical implications for future studies on the use of emotional appeals in persuasive advertising.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

DeFleur, Margaret H.