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The impact of threat appeal messages on risky driving intentions: A Terror Management Theory perspective.

Carey, R N, Sarma, K M (Peer reviewed)

Communication

2011

This paper considers the impact of exposure to road safety threat appeals on intention to take driving risks among young male drivers. In particular, attention is given to the potential for driving-related self-esteem and the personality variable of impulsiveness to moderate this impact. The paper describes an experiment in which participants were exposed to mortality salient or neutral facts. The dependent variable was self-reported intention to take driving risks. Participants (n=80) were male university students with a full driver’s licence. Participants with high driving-related self-esteem, who were exposed to deathrelated facts and images, reported greater intentions to take driving risks than those exposed to neutral information. Impulsiveness was identified as a significant contributor to risky driving intentions. Though limited in its ecological validity, the study presents an opportunity to reconsider our understanding of resilience to driving-related health promotion campaigns.