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The Theories Behind the Videos

Cook for Your HealthCook for Health

Eating well is a preventive behavior, as it prevents the onset of negative health conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, among many others. As such, the most effective form of message to promote healthy eating according to prospect theory is one that is gain-framed as opposed to loss-framed. Thus in our commercial, we emphasize the money one can save and the healthier one can eat when they eat at home. 

Our health message, although providing relevant facts and information, also employs emotional appeals.   The character that drives to McDonalds to get dinner is crafted as unhappy, impatient, in a troubled relationship, etc. Conversely, the woman who bikes to the store to buy food and prepares a home-cooked meal is framed as happy and enthusiastic. 

Utilizing the components of social cognitive theory, we also promoted self-efficacy of eating healthy through illustrating the ease and limited cost of preparing a meal at home as compared to eating fast food. Although showing preparation of only one type of meal, we demonstrated a variety of alternative healthy foods, such as whole-wheat pasta, fresh and canned vegetables, and chicken breast.  One of the primary goals of our health message was to instill in viewers confidence in starting to eat healthy after seeing how easy and cost-effective it can be.  In short, our health message used the techniques of emotional appeals, prospect theory, and social cognitive theory to best influence viewers of a middle class demographic, interested in saving money, to eat healthy and eat at home.


Don't Get Soakedcondom dance still

Our video attempted to promote condom use in high school or college age individuals by presenting a series of situations relating to using (or not using) condoms to avoid contracting STIs. The first theory we used to frame our message was prospect theory, which led us to adopt a gain-framed approach, particularly in the scenes where one of the partners has an STI but the couple uses a condom to enjoy a safe, healthy sexual experience without transmitting the STI. Second, we applied the principles of Social Cognitive Theory by promoting self-efficacy using demonstrations of desired behavior (using condoms) in the context of real-life situations. Specifically, we demonstrated that the use of condoms in a sexual encounter could be initiated gracefully by either partner.

We employed some other strategies we learned about in class to make our message more effective. We optimized the effectiveness of our message for an audience of high school and college age students through the careful selection of college-age actors in our production. We thought this would be helpful because our actors would be around the same age and maybe slightly older than the target audience.

Finally, we used a medium-threat message, which according to Janis (1967) is the most effective type of advertisement for motivating behavioral change (Sanderson 531). While there are certain high-threat aspects of our movie, such as the fear-inducing STI statistics provided at the beginning, they were tempered by an approach that was humorous though not to the extent that it undermined our message.


Nutrition RocksNutrition Rocks

The goal of our persuasive health video is to promote eating more fruits and vegetables.  Our audience is Carleton students.  The video begins with Brad, a popular, fit and intelligent Carleton football player bench-pressing impressively in the rec center.   He feels like his performance is better that day because he ate a salad.   Then, we catch up with Brad later in Burton dining hall, and he shows us the salad bar where he gets his dinner.  This is use of the social learning theory and modeling.  Carleton students will likely want to model their eating habits after Brad. 

We also included social cognitive theory in our persuasive video.  We wanted to increase self-efficacy in the viewer by showing that it is very easy to model Brad’s behavior.  We show the viewer where the fruits and salad bar are located in Burton, and how convenient it is to grab a piece of fruit.  As a result of watching the video, we want Carleton students to believe that it is possible for them to engage in eating healthy and that these healthy foods are available.  We were also sure to include humor to appeal to the audience of Carleton students.


The Tan OutcastTanning Dangers

For our PSA video on awareness of the dangers of tanning and the benefits of using sunscreen, we utilized two main theories of persuasion and health outcomes. We used different ideas from the Prospect Theory and the Social Cognitive Theory. From the Prospect Theory, we used a gain framed message by letting the audience know that using sunscreen and not tanning had positive benefits that were relevant to them. We gave a statistic that 90% of sun cancer could be prevented by wearing sunscreen.  This statistic was meant to be a gain-frame message that emphasized the benefits of wearing sunscreen.  We also made it clear that it was a more desirable outcome among their peers to avoid tanning and maintain a natural skin tone.

We also used the Social Cognitive Theory. We used individuals slightly older than the target audience (which was teenage girls) to model the desired behavior. We also used a celebrity spokesperson as a model. We utilized the outcome expectancies aspect of the Social Cognitive Theory by letting the audience know that by avoiding sun exposure and using sunscreen they can avoid many undesirable outcomes. Finally, we increased the audience’s self-efficacy by providing them with information that it was possible and very easy for them to take control of their appearance and prevent skin cancer by wearing sunscreen.


Unsexy STDsUnsexy STDs

Our advertisement uses a loss-framed message to highlight the immediate negative consequences associated with unprotected sex.  The protagonist wakes up after a night of unprotected sex with a partner known to have genital herpes, and realizes she forgot to use a condom.  She is spotted leaving his bedroom, and the gossip mill quickly begins to churn.  Loss-framed messages have been proven to be effective in preventing behaviors with more immediate or short-term consequences, which is why we chose to represent an immediate negative social impact.

Along with a loss-framed approach encouraging condom use, we also employed the outcome expectancies of Social Cognitive Theory. This theory suggests that behavior is predicted by perceived rewards or punishment.  In this case, in addition to health consequences, the punishment of promiscuous sexual behavior is the social stigma of having an STD.  With modern technology such as text messaging and online social networking sites, this information reaches more people at an alarming rate.


Wanna Get Tested?STI Testing

This commercial promotes healthy communication about STI testing and is aimed at individuals in the Contemplation stage of the Transtheoretical model. We primarily structured our design around the Social Cognitive Theory. According to this theory, behavior is best predicted by attitudes acquired through social networks and the media, as well as outcome expectancies and self-efficacy beliefs. Thus, we acted out realistic scenes to model that talking about STI testing is not as difficult as people often think. By using attractive people (we hope) who are slightly older than the target audience we effectively provide models for these interactions. By portraying the situations in realistic settings we aimed to increase self-efficacy by supplying an archetype for how to initiate discussions in a non-threatening manner.

We also utilized positively framed messages in the first scene on the Bald Spot so that our audience would be more receptive to our message. Mahesh and Matt discuss the fact that once you are tested you “don’t have to worry about it.”  Finally, we provide the audience with an immediate course of action to get more information by displaying the Wellness Center’s telephone number as well as including its name in each scene.