Despite projections that both the frequency and magnitude of natural and man-made hazards are expected to grow, U.S. government sponsored research continues to show that American citizens remain unprepared or underprepared for such events. Recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control launched a campaign framing citizen-level preparedness in the context of a zombie apocalypse. Using the Heuristic-Systematic model (HSM), this research measured several theoretically relevant cognitive and attitudinal constructs to examine the persuasive efficacy of the zombie message as compared to a similar one addressing a real, salient natural hazard. Results show that the salient threat message was more effective in promoting positive attitudes, cognitive processing, and behavioral intentions to prepare. Those who read about either a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake, were more likely to report more positive preparedness attitudes, increased preparedness knowledge, and increased behavioral intentions and enhanced risk perception. The results support the conclusion that preparedness messages tailored to locally salient threats facilitate systematic processing, and beneficial persuasive outcomes. Practitioners can use these findings to modify existing preparedness campaigns to bolster preparedness related attitudes, cognitions and behavioral intentions. Implications for communication theory and practice are discussed.
- Natural disasters
- Risk communication
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
- Safety Research