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Predicting future speeding behaviour: The appeal of positive emotional appeals for high risk road users.

Lewis, I, Watson, B, White, K M (Peer reviewed)

General

ACRS conference 2008

Males are more likely to be involved in road-related trauma and to engage in risky driving behaviours such as speeding. Advertising campaigns attempting to motivate behavioural change among males often rely upon negative, fear-based emotional appeals. However, evidence is mixed for the effectiveness of fear appeals and there is limited evidence for the effectiveness of alternative emotion-based approaches, such as positive emotional appeals, which incorporate humour or pride. The current study examined the impact of negative and positive emotional messages on self-reported speeding behaviour. For comparative purposes, the results obtained for male, as well as female drivers, are reported. Participants (N = 205) completed an internet-based survey in which their past (pre-exposure) speeding behaviour was assessed before exposure to either a positive or negative emotion-based message. Immediately after exposure, the extent of message acceptance was assessed. One month later, participants were asked to report their speeding behaviour during the previous 4 weeks. Hierarchical regressions examined the extent that message acceptance predicted subsequent self-reported behaviour over and above the impact of participants’ past speeding behaviour. The results revealed that message acceptance reported by males after exposure to positive emotional appeals was a more important predictor of subsequent speeding behaviour than their past speeding behaviour. In contrast, the results reported for those exposed to negative emotional appeals indicated that such appeals may have limited impact on males’ speeding behaviour with past behaviour emerging as the only significant predictor. Overall, the results highlight the potential utility of positive emotional appeals for modifying the behaviour of male road users.