Title page for ETD etd-05012009-132743

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Cox, Matthew George
Author's Email Address macox@vt.edu
URN etd-05012009-132743
Title Prompting safety-belt use with a positive versus negative prompt: Comparative impact on the target behavior and relevant body language
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Geller, E. Scott Committee Chair
Clarke, Steve Committee Member
Cooper, Lee D. Committee Member
  • Safety belt
  • prompts
  • threats
  • rewards
  • body language
Date of Defense 2009-04-21
Availability unrestricted
Two studies were conducted to compare the efficacy of two behavioral prompts in increasing safety-belt use. Two approaches were used in both studies. The first approach involved showing a sign with the message, “Please Buckle Up, I Care” to unbuckled drivers leaving a parking lot; the second involved displaying the nationwide slogan “Click it or Ticket” (CioT). Participants were 1,822 unbuckled drivers exiting two student parking lots of a large university. Research assistants identified an unbuckled driver, flashed one of two signs, and recorded whether the driver buckled after the prompt, as well as the driver’s facial reactions and hand gestures. Of the unbuckled drivers, 34% buckled following the Flash-for-Life (FfL) prompt, and 26% with the CioT prompt (p < .05). Drivers gave significantly more positive facial expressions and hand gestures following FfL vs. CioT prompt (p < .05). The second study used a variation of the procedures in Study I and implemented the intervention at a large department store. Driver age was measured with the previous driver variables. Participants were 1,990 unbuckled drivers exiting a parking lot. Results showed no significant differences in terms of compliance to signs (20.8% for FfL and 20.4% for CioT, p’s > .05). Significant differences in hand gestures, facial expressions and ages were detected as a function of compliance, regardless of sign (all p’s < .001). Specifically, drivers who complied with either prompt were more likely to be younger, and present positive hand gestures and facial expressions. Implications and future directions are discussed.
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