Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection may lead to cancer and genital warts yet can be prevented by a safe and effective vaccine recommended for individuals up to 26 years old. HPV vaccination rates remain low among college aged adults that represent a catch-up population still eligible to receive the HPV vaccine. This present study is a theory-based investigation employing the Heuristic Systematic Model to explore the effect of message format and processing route on attitude and behavioral intention in the context of HPV vaccination. Undergraduate students aged 17-26 years old (N = 261) from various majors (e.g., STEM, social sciences, humanities) participated in the study. An online message exposure experiment randomly assigned participants one of three messages in different message formats (i.e., accessible, scientific jargon, scientese) promoting HPV vaccination to examine the persuasive potential of clearly worded messages (i.e., accessible message), appropriately used scientific language (i.e., jargon message) and inappropriately used scientific terminology (i.e., scientese message) and the effect of processing route on attitude and behavioral intention pertaining to HPV vaccination. Additionally, the potential impact of scientific literacy was investigated. The three experimental conditions were compared to the control condition that corresponded to no message exposure. Quantitative data analyses revealed the scientese message was associated with higher intention to receive the HPV vaccine than the simply worded message among systematic processors only. Further, systematic processing was related to more favorable attitude toward the message and greater intention to obtain the vaccine. Findings of the current study can help inform future message development to design targeted persuasive messages aiming to encourage vaccination in an effort to augment HPV vaccination rates among the catch-up population.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Communication; Mass Communication
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Boutemen, Laura, "A Complex Calculus: How Message Format and Processing Route Coordinate to Influence HPV Vaccination Message Persuasiveness Among Young Adults" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5783.