Among the existing sexual assault prevention efforts on college campuses, few use mass communication strategies designed to simultaneously entertain and educate. Although many entertainment-education efforts are guided by social cognitive theory, other theories may be useful in entertainment-education design. Previous research has found that social cognitive theory and social norms theory can successfully influence participants’ perceived norms and efficacy related to sexual assault reduction; however, whether such results can be replicated in a naturalistic setting and the extent to which the guiding theoretical foundation may influence outcomes remain unknown. We used a pre- and posttest field experiment with college students in residence halls to assess how different theoretical foundations may influence effects. Over the course of a semester, the participants viewed eight mini-magazines developed using (1) social cognitive theory, (2) social norms theory, (3) a combination of both theoretical frameworks, or (4) a control condition with no sexual assault prevention messaging. Participants in the combined content condition had greater levels of self-efficacy related to sexual assault prevention and more accurate norm perceptions. There were also effects for the mini-magazines developed with only one theoretical framework. Overall, we found that multiple theories can effectively guide entertainment-education message development.
|Journal||Journal of Health Communication|
|State||Published - 2017|