The Entertainment-Education Strategy in Sexual Assault Prevention: A Comparison of Theoretical Foundations and a Test of Effectiveness in a College Campus Setting

Stacey J.T. Hust, Paula M. Adams, Jessica Fitts Willoughby, Chunbo Ren, Ming Lei, Weina Ran, Emily Garrigues Marett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-731
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Volume22
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2 2017

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