Addressing the Texting and Driving Epidemic: Mortality Salience Priming Effects on Attitudes and Behavioral Intentions
Journal of Consumer Affairs, 48 (2), 223-250
50 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2013 Last revised: 11 Jul 2014
Date Written: September 12, 2013
Texting while driving is becoming a problem of epidemic proportion, causing thousands of fatalities each year. However, surprisingly few academic studies to date have examined this issue in a social marketing context. We address this research void by reporting the findings of two empirical studies – the first, an exploratory study of drivers’ perceptions of texting while driving; the second, an experimental examination of the relative effectiveness of mortality salience primes in public service announcements (PSAs). Employing theory derived from the mortality salience literature, we find that when verbal and/or visual cues to death/dying were used, participants’ attitudes and behavioral intentions were altered in a positive direction. As compared to a control group, the primed PSAs produced less favorable attitudes and reduced intentions to text while driving in the future. Implications of these findings for consumers, social marketers and policy makers are discussed, and future research directions are provided.
Keywords: texting and driving, fear appeals, mortality salience, public service announcements (PSAs)
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