Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies

Committee Member

Gregory A. Cranmer

Committee Member

Erin Ash

Committee Member

Bryan E. Denham


Binge drinking has been a significant public health concern on college campuses for several decades. While health communication scholars looked into addressing this issue through a multi-faceted approach, they failed to consider the role of athletes and their potential influence on college students. Thus, this thesis attempts to bridge this literature gap by adopting the theoretical framework of the elaboration likelihood model (ELM) to analyze the underlying cognitive structures in information processing that leads to attitudinal and behavioral change. Data was collected from a large south-eastern University in the United States. Results from 293 respondents show that elaboration and attitudes predicted behavioral intention toward stopping or avoiding binge drinking. However, as the theory advanced, the effect of elaboration on behaviors did not go through attitudes. Likewise, argument strength played no role in how it moderates the association between elaboration and attitudes. Interestingly, parasocial interaction toward the athletes significantly predicted elaboration. Furthermore, race was also examined in this thesis, and results demonstrate no significant relationship in how it functions to affect information processing. Behavioral intention was also integrated into the theoretical model, especially determining its relationship with attitudes and elaboration. This thesis provides theoretical, heuristic, and practical implications for public health institutions.



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