Date of Award

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication Studies

Committee Member

Dr. Erin M. Ash, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Bryan E. Denham

Committee Member

Dr. Meghnaa Tallapragada

Abstract

This research was designed to examine how narrative messages about safe driving in media can influence favorable persuasive outcomes related to driving without cell phone use. Based on the entertainment overcoming resistance model (EORM) and construal level theory (CLT), three hypotheses were proposed that considered the role of narrative engagement and persuasive resistance in increasing favorable outcomes associated with safe driving. For this study in particular, CLT and EORM predicted that a narrative featuring low social distance would be more effective in increasing favorable persuasive outcomes by increasing narrative engagement and decreasing persuasive resistance. It was also predicted that narrative engagement and persuasive resistance would mediate the relationship between social distance and persuasive outcomes. An experiment was conducted among college students using different versions of news stories as the stimuli to test the hypotheses. Results from a series of hierarchical regressions revealed that the low social distance narrative actually increased persuasive resistance, which was contrary to what was predicted. It was also found that one form of persuasive resistance was a significant mediator in the relationship between social distance and persuasive outcomes. This study suggests that when testing the propositions of construal level theory under the context of narratives, it is important to think about how CLT propositions will interact with narrative features and produce unique persuasive outcomes through narrative mechanisms.

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