Effect of message type and source in advocacy communication: investigating message strategies to combat ageism Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Bailey, Terri Ann
    • Affiliation: Hussman School of Journalism and Media
  • This experimental research study investigated the effects that message type and source similarity in mass media messages have on attitudes toward older adults among college-age students. The purpose of the study was to investigate public relations message strategies that can be employed to combat negative stereotypes that stigmatize a social group, in this case older adults. Due to the large population of aging baby boomers, efforts to combat prejudice and discrimination against older adults—termed ageism—has particular importance for age organizations striving to enhance the overall quality of life for older adults. Three types of message appeal conditions (cognitive, affective, and mixed cognitive/affective) were presented in a simulated Yahoo.com online news article. The simulated news article was designed to reflect a published press release that was disseminated to the media by an age organization striving to combat typically held negative stereotypes of people over age 65. A supplemental experiment manipulated a source variable based on similarity (same-age college student source versus older-age source) to investigate possible effect of source similarity on positively changing attitudes toward older adults. The results showed that presenting fact-based cognitive arguments supported by research evidence was a more effective message strategy for producing positive attitude change toward older adults among 200 undergraduate students than were affective messages based on emotional appeals, subjective personal evaluations, and compassionate arguments or a combination of cognitive and affective appeals. Furthermore, results indicated the importance of mass media messages in terms of producing positive attitude change toward older adults. There was significant positive attitude change toward older adults after exposure to the stimulus materials in both the immediate and time-delayed (one week) conditions.
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  • In Copyright
  • Gibson, Rhonda
  • Open access

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