Bernhardt, J.M. (2000). Effects and perceptions of a narrative anti-violence public service announcement. (Doctoral dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2000). Dissertation Abstracts International, 60 (7-B), 3233.
Abstract: Mass media anti–violence messages are one important strategy for addressing the problem of youth violence in America. This study evaluated the cognitive effects of a narrative anti–violence public service announcement (PSA) among adolescents. Sixth, seventh, and eight grade students (n = 294) were randomly assigned to treatment and comparison groups. The treatment group viewed a PSA with a negative physical consequence (i.e., death) for the handgun user embedded within music videos and commercials. The comparison group viewed identical video content except that the embedded PSA showed no negative physical consequence for the handgun user. Participants were instructed that the study was about television and music videos. This study was informed by Social Cognitive Theory. Logistic regression analysis, which adjusted for race and gender, showed that participants who viewed the treatment PSA were more likely to have a negative expected outcome for aggressively using a handgun and lower behavioral intention to aggressively use a handgun, than those who viewed the comparison PSA. This study also assessed relationships among adolescents’ experiences with violence and handguns, and beliefs about handgun violence, with their perceptions about the similarity of the main PSA character and the relevance of the PSA scene. These analyses were limited to those participants who saw the treatment PSA (n = 129). Participants were shown the treatment PSA again and were surveyed on their perceptions. Additional statistical analyses suggest that participants experienced in violent behavior similar to that depicted in the PSA were more likely to perceive higher similarity with the main PSA character and higher relevance of the PSA scene than those without such experiences. This study suggests that observing a negative physical consequence for committing handgun violence may lead to lower handgun-encouraging beliefs than observing modeled handgun violence with no negative physical consequence. This finding is important given that most violence on television does no show negative consequence or punishment for the perpetrator. Future research should explore the effects of other negative consequences and should apply this approach with other health behaviors. In addition, research should investigate whether manipulating PSA scenes or models’ behaviors can increase viewer perceptions of similarity and relevance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)