Rona Smeak

Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communications Media

First Advisor

Mark J. Piwinsky, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

James Lenze, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Nurhaya Muchtar, Ph.D.


In studying the impact of video public service announcements (PSAs) on texting and driving, this study found that while informative/celebrity appeals support long-term information retention, fear and humor appeals were more likely to create positive attitude change as measured by the Health Belief Model (HBM). The fear and humor appeal type’s also revealed positive significance in the participant’s overall health belief index, both immediately and long-term. The results of the current study found informational/celebrity appeal types had a negative impact on the HBM barriers constructs, both immediate and long-term.

Cell phones are a vital tool used in our daily lives. The world is at our fingertips by using these devices. However, this convenience and overreliance have posed problems in personal relationships, classrooms, and produced serious distraction concerns, especially while driving. This quasi-experimental research, conducted at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, examined three appeal types commonly used in PSAs; fear, humor and informational/celebrity to determine if the type of appeal impacts college students’ attitudes, both immediately and long-term, towards texting and driving. The study also investigated how these appeals impact college students’ immediate and long-term information retention.