The Effect of Idiocentrsim and Involvement on AIDS Appeals
The Effect of Idiocentrsim and Involvement on Atitude, Cognition and Behavioral
Intention with respect to AIDS Appeal Types
Mohan Jyoti Dutta
School of Journalism and Mass Communication,
111 Murphy Hall, University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Email: [log in to unmask]
The Effect of Idiocentrism and Involvement on Attitude, Cognition and
Behavioral Intention with respect to AIDS Appeal Types
This study looks at the role played by idiocentrism/allocentrism in shaping
consumers' attitude, cognition and behavioral intention in the context of AIDS
appeal types. The level of involvement emerges to be a significant moderating
factor that interacts with idiocentrsim to shape audience prefernce. This
provides direction for an entirely new dimension of research in public health
both from theoretical and applied perspectives. Cultures and sub-cultures may
be studied in the context of individualism and its effects that may be observed
at a cultural level. Campaigns may be designed at enhancing the level of
audience involvement and targeting the audience with consistent
culture-sensitive messages, based on the level of idiocentrsim/allocentrism.
Despite the widespread launch of AIDS campaigns designed for preventing the
rapid spread of the disease, the number of people infected by AIDS continually
keeps rising (Mann and Tarantola, 1996). Community-level, national, and
international prevention and education efforts have not yet been effective in
curbing the menacing spread of AIDS. What remains at the root of this wide gap
is a lack of understanding of the target audience and its needs (National
Commission on AIDS, 1992). Market segmentation and stratification have always
remained at the core of widely accepted practices in commercial marketing
(Berrigan and Finkbeiner, 1992; Croft, 1994; Wind, 1978). Albrect and Bryant
(1996) argued that meaningful audience segmentation lies at the core of an
effective health communication program. Therefore, the primary problem in AIDS
prevention is identifying well-defined adopter groups and designing messages
specifically for these groups (Fisher, 1988; Flora and Thoresen, 1988;
Frankenberger and Sukhdial, 1994; Nowak et al. 1993).
Traditional commercial and social marketing approaches focus on geographic,
demographic, psychographic, attitudinal and behavioral segmentation variables
(Kotler, 1984; Green and Krieger, 1991). Personality, as a measure of audience
characteristics, has been neglected in health communication. Holbrook and
Hirschman (1982) argued that personality could serve as an important trait in
understanding the audience and suggested personality constructs such as
sensation seeking, creativity, religious world view, and Type A versus Type B.
This paper advocates that personality plays a pivotal role in understanding the
audience in health communication. It investigates the role played by one such
personality construct, idiocentrism, in the context of persuasive AIDS messages
and presents a framework for understanding advertising appeal types in the
context of idiocentrism.
Idiocentrism/Allocentrism: A new dimension
Since Hofstede's ( 1984) seminal work on the differences among cultures,
individualism/collectivism has emerged as an important construct. The
importance of this construct has been supported both at theoretical and
empirical levels (Triandis, 1995). Individualism pertains to people's tendency
to value personal and individual time, freedom and experience (Hofstede, 1984;
Parsons and Shils 1951; Reisman, Glazer and Denney, 1953; Roth, 1995).
Individualists view self as a relatively autonomous, self-sufficient entity
independent from its surrounding interpersonal context (Geertz, 1984; Triandis,
1989). An individual strives to become independent of others by attending to
his or her private qualities and cultivating and expressing those inner
attributes that uniquely distinguish him or her from others (Markus and
Kitayama, 1991; Suh, Diener, Oishi, and Triandis, 1988). Individualists believe
in self-reliance, hedonism, competition, and emotional detachment from
On the other hand, collectivists are more likely to have interdependent
relationships with their in-groups. A collectivist subordinates his/her
personal goals to the in-group goals. Identity among collectivists is defined
by the relationships and group memberships and collectivists favor attitudes
that reflect sociability, interdependence, and family integrity. Emphasis is
laid on interdependence, harmony, family security, social hierarchies,
cooperation, and low levels of competition (Han and Shavitt, 1994; Triandis,
1989, 1990, 1995; Triandis et. al., 1990).
Triandis (1995) presented four universal dimensions that classify between the
constructs. The definition of self is interdependent in collectivism and
independent in individualism (Markus and Kitayama, 1991; Reykowski, 1994;
Triandis, 1995); collectivism ensures close alignment of personal and communal
goals while individualism does not (Triandis, 1988, 1990, 1995); collectivist
cognitions focus on norms, obligations, and duties while individualist
cognitions focus on attitudes, personal needs, rights and contracts (Davidson
et. al., 1976; Miller, 1994); individualism centers around rational advantages
and disadvantages while collectivism emphasizes relationships.
Although the initial emphasis on the construct was at the cultural level,
subsequent research has indicated a strong interest in studying individualism
and collectivism at the individual level (Kim, 1994; Triandis, 1994; Yamaguchi
et. al., 1995). Individuals within cultures vary along the same dimensions and
research at the individual level examines the relationship between each person's
individualist or collectivist tendencies and his/her behavior, cognition,
attitude and/or emotion. To avoid confusion in the conceptualization of the
construct at the cultural and individual levels, Triandis et al. (1989) defined
person level individualism as idiocentrism and person level collectivism as
allocentrism. The characteristics of an idiocentric or allocentric perspective
have important implications for the study of the differences in emotional,
cognitive, and motivational experiences of individuals within cultures and their
In this article, involvement is conceptualized in terms of the issue (Flora and
Maibach, 1990; Salmon, 1986). Issue involvement becomes significant when an
issue has personal meaning (Sherif et. al., 1973), intrinsic meaning (Sherif and
Hovland, 1961), or when the target audiences perceive the issue to have
significant consequences for their own lives (Apsler and Sears, 1968).
According to Petty and Cacioppo's (1986) elaboration likelihood model (ELM),
issue involvement has a major influence on the cognitive strategy used to
process persuasive communication. Highly involved audiences primarily process
information central to the message whereas audience members who are in a low
involvement state process information peripheral to the message.
Advertising Appeal Types in Health Communication
In the context of commercial marketing, communicating a clearly defined brand
image to a target segment has always been regarded as a focal point (Gardner and
Levy 1955; Grubb and Grathwhol 1967; Moran 1973; Park, Jaworski and MacInnnis
1987; Reynolds and Gutman 1984; White 1959). A clearly defined brand image
enables consumers to identify the needs satisfied by a brand (Roth 1995) and
serves as a key to product success (Gardner and Levy 1955; Roth 1995; Shocker
and Srinivasan 1979; Wind 1973). As Roth (1995) argues, developing a
needs-based image strategy provides the foundation for marketing program
development and enables the brand to create a clear and distinct position within
its category. This argument can be extrapolated to the arena of social
marketing where campaign designers are constantly vying with other products and
services to grab the consumers' attention and to get them to adopt and implement
a certain behavior. Selecting and managing an appropriate and consistent image
of a particular health campaign is pivotal to the success of the program.
Most early AIDS campaigns focused on rational rather than emotional arguments
and urged audiences to seek information rather than advocating specific
behaviors to reduce the chance of contracting the disease (Brinson and Brown,
1997; Friemuth, Hammond, Edgar, and Monahan, 1990). Johnson et al. (1997), in
their study of 317 AIDS Public Service Announcements (PSAs) from 33 countries
produced from 1987 to 1993, found that rational appeals make up the single
largest category of ads. Rational appeals concentrate on primarily factual
information aimed at solving a particular problem while emotional appeals focus
on dramatizations and narratives.
Flora and Maibach (1990), in their work on cognitive responses to AIDS
information, argued that emotional AIDS messages are more memorable and create
more of a desire to seek further information about AIDS than do rational
messages. According to associative models of memory, the positive or negative
emotional valence of a message will affect not only its storage and retrieval
but also the selection of other experiences with which that memory will be
associated (Bower, 1981). Also, emotion may have differential
information-processing effects during different stages of the message
experience, so that negative emotions are processed earlier and more rapidly,
whereas positive experiences are processed later and elaborated more thoroughly.
Empirical evidence points out that emotional messages are generally more
memorable than rational messages (Friestad & Thornson, 1985).
Different frameworks have been suggested for the categorization of appeal
types. The normative model proposed by Park, Jaworski and MacInnis (1986) is
one of the most comprehensive and most widely used models in current literature
(Roth 1995). According to the normative model, appeal types may be classified
as functional, social, and sensory.
Functional needs motivate the search for products and/or services that solve
consumption-related problems. Therefore, a functional appeal type focuses on
problem solving and problem prevention. This type of approach is similar to
the utilitarian approach discussed by Shavitt, Lowrey and Han (1992).
Utilitarian attitudes, focussing on the inherent qualities and benefits of the
product, maximize the rewards and minimize the punishments obtained from objects
in one's environment. Therefore, behavior is guided in a direction that obtains
the benefits associated with the objects (Katz 1960; Shavitt et al. 1992).
Social brand appeals, on the other hand, focus on fulfilling internally
generated needs for self-enhancement, role position, group membership and
affiliation, or ego-identification (Park, Jaworski and MacInnis 1986; Roth
1995), clustered together as the social identity function (Shavitt 1989, 1990).
Such strategies are in concurrence with image based attitudes that focus on the
impressions created by using the product (Debono and Parker 1991; Snyder and
DeBono 1985, 1987; Shavitt 1989, 1990; Shavitt et al. 1992). In this context,
attitudes function in the service of one's public image and self-expression.
According to Smith et al. (1956), attitudes help gain social acceptance by
mediating relationships with other people. They also symbolize and express
one's identity by promoting identification with reference groups. Sensory
images build around the novelty, variety seeking, and sensory gratification
needs. The importance of experiential needs in consumption has been illustrated
by work on variety seeking (McAlister 1979, 1982; McAlister and Pessemier 1982),
consumer aesthetics, and experiential consumption (Hirschman and Holbrook 1982;
Holbrook and Hirschman 1982; Holbrook et al. 1984).
Traditional health communication theories such as the health belief model, the
theory of planned action, self efficacy model, and the theory of reasoned action
have consistently focussed on the functional needs, without paying attention to
other need types. As already discussed, most of these models have been
inconclusive and unpredictable (Strebel 1997). Using the normative model
provides a more holistic approach to the understanding of the persuasive
processes in health communication. It also provides an alternative approach to
health communication. Under this framework, persuasive strategies in health
communication can be studied and designed in the context of functional, social
and sensory appeal types, optimizing the effectiveness of the public health
Individualism/Collectivism, Involvement and the Persuasion Process
The level of individualism affects the degree to which a particular advertising
appeal will be effective (Roth, 1995; Han and Shavitt, 1994; Zhang and Gelb,
1996). High individualism has a positive and marginally significant impact on
the market share of functional and sensory appeals (Roth, 1995; Han and Shavitt,
1994; Zhang and Gelb, 1996). Idiocentrics are persuaded by advertisements
emphasizing personal benefits, weighing individual likes and dislikes and
perceived costs and benefits (Han and Shavitt, 1994). On the other hand,
allocentrics stress on social norms, roles and values, and therefore, find
social brand images that reinforce group membership and affiliation more
attractive. Idiocentrics seek self-satisfaction and hence, like functional and
sensory appeals that satisfy a problem solving or sensory gratification need.
Allocentrics prefer social appeals that perform a relational function involving
persons, environment and socio-cultural systems (Malinowski, 1944).
However, issue involvement is a moderating factor that affects appeal
preference (Kahle and Homer, 1985; Petty et. al., 1983; Han and Shavitt, 1994).
A high involvement situation leads to evaluation of an issue/product in terms of
criteria that are considered highly important, including cultural value
standards (Han and Shavitt, 1994). Under low involvement, on the other hand, a
person is responsive to a wider variety of appeals. On the other hand, Flora
and Maibach (1990), in their study on emotional and rational messages, concluded
that people, under low involvement conditions, remember emotional messages much
more than rational messages.
Therefore, under low involvement, both allocentrics and idiocentrics are
responsive to a wider variety of appeals and are not expected to demonstrate
their liking for any particular type of appeal. On the other hand, under high
involvement conditions, allocentrics prefer social appeals and idiocentrics
prefer functional appeals to other appeal types. It may be hypothesized that:
1) Under low involvement conditions, allocentrics will respond positively to
functional, social and sensory appeals, without demonstrating much significant
difference among the preference types.
2) Under low involvement conditions, idiocentrics will respond positively to
functional, social and sensory appeals, without demonstrating much significant
difference among the preference types.
3) Under high involvement conditions, allocentrics will demonstrate a more
positive attitude toward social appeals as compared to functional and sensory
4) Under high involvement conditions, idiocentrics will demonstrate a more
positive attitude toward functional appeals as compared to sensory and social
Attitude-Behavior-Cognition: Similarities and Differences
Although traditional psychological and sociological theories have addressed the
issue of congruency between attitudes (affect), beliefs (cognition) and
behaviors, very little work has been done to show the consistency (Insko and
Schopler, 1967) among them. Flora and Maibach (1990), in their work on rational
and emotional appeals, observed that the type of appeal did not have significant
higher-order effects in the context of behavioral intention although cognition
was affected. Middlestadt et. al. (1994) argued that, in many cases,
non-belief-based processing forms the basis of attitude formation. Zajonc
(1980) proposed that affective judgments may be independent of cognitive
operations. At the same length, Gorn (1982) argued that a positive affect
toward music may be directly transferred to the product by way of classical
conditioning instead of by a cognitive chain. Therefore, attitude and cognition
may not always operate in harmony with each other. This paper also explores the
effect of idiocentrism/allocentrism on cognition and behavioral intention at the
cognitive and behavioral levels.
The 73 respondents were undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 28
and received extra credit in their course in exchange for participation.
The advertisements were created instead of being picked up from those available
in order to avoid recognition bias and any other effects of prior attitudes.
Also, it was important to create mutually exclusive slogans that appropriately
represent each of the categories. Advertisements contained three headlines,
numbered A, B, and C, each representing a particular appeal type, and a simple
body copy to eliminate any bias created by more elaborate executions. Headlines
were manipulated to reflect functional, social, and sensory appeal types.
Initially, nine advertisement headlines were designed by the author, each appeal
type being represented by three headlines. Six judges viewed all the 9
headlines and independently classified them as functional, social or sensory.
Based on the scores assigned by the coders and the agreement among these scores,
three headlines were picked, each representing a particular category. The six
judges agreed on 100% of their headline classification for the three selected
Presentation of Ads
Each subject read and responded to all the three advertisement headlines. The
three headlines were arranged beside a simple and general body copy, in harmony
with each appeal type. The order of appeals was counterbalanced so that a
functional advertisement was read first for one set of questionnaires, a social
appeal was read first for another set, and a sensory appeal was read first for
The subjects were measured in terms of their degree of idiocentrism, using the
individualism instrument created by Triandis (1995). A reliability test yielded
a Chronbach's alpha of .78. Based on the median score, respondents were
classified as high and low idiocentrics. Involvement was measured using Flora
and Maibach's (1974) AIDS involvement scale. Chronbach's alpha for the scale
was at .84. On the basis of a median split, half of the respondents were
classified as high involvement and half as low involvement.
Subjects rated each of the advertisement headlines on a 7-point Likert scale
including items such as pleasantness, appeal, attractiveness, excitement,
interesting, fascinating and meaningfulness. These items served as a measure of
attitude toward the headlines. Cognition was measured on a 7-point Likert scale
comprising of items such as "easy to remember," and "makes me read the ad."
Finally, behavioral intention was measured by items such as "makes me want to
learn more about AIDS," "makes me think about my behavior," and "makes me want
to change my behavior."
The effectiveness of idiocentrism as an index of appeal preference was strongly
supported throughout the findings. In the context of attitude toward the
advertisement, low idiocentrics demonstrated significantly (p<.05) higher mean
ratings for social appeals than did high idiocentrics (High Idiocentrics = 9.68;
Low Idiocentrism = 11,783). The sensory and functional appeals did not
demonstrate any significant differences between high and low idiocentrics.
Furthermore, the level of involvement did not have any significant effect on
attitude toward functional, social and sensory appeals. Also, no interaction
effect was observed.
At the cognitive level, the results supported the findings of Flora and
Maibach, demonstrating significantly (p < .05) higher cognitive effects under
low involvement situations (M = 15.2) than under high involvement situations (M
= 12. 97). Also, idiocentrism had significant effects (p < .05) on cognitive
responses to the social appeal, demonstrating stronger cognitive effects for low
idiocentrics (M = 14.63) than for high idiocentrics (M = 12.38). No significant
interaction effects were observed.
In the context of behavioral intention, functional appeals demonstrated
significantly (p < .05) higher behavioral effects under high involvement than
under low involvement (Low Involvement = 16.91; High Involvement = 17.21).
Also, a significant interaction effect was observed for functional appeals. The
interaction effect is demonstrated in Figure 1.
Low Involvement High Involvement
Figure 1: The Effect of Involvement and Idiocentrism on Behavioral Intention
Similarly, no significant main effects were observed in the context of sensory
appeals. However, significant (p< .01) interaction effects were observed. In
agreement with the nomological network, it was observed that under a low level
of involvement, low idiocentrics demonstrate stronger behavioral intentions for
sensory appeals than under a high level of involvement (Low Involvement = 15.77;
High Involvement = 16.64). On the other hand, under high levels of involvement,
high idiocentrics demonstrate an equal effect size as under low levels of
involvement (High Involvement = 16.64; Low Involvement = 16.59). The results
are shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Interaction Effect between Involvement and
At the second level, each of the individual hypotheses were tested by running
repeated measures ANOVA to compare attitudes toward the different types of image
appeals. Hypothesis 1 was supported by the data. There wasn't any significant
difference in the attitude toward social, functional and sensory appeals in a
low involvement, allocentric situation. However, the trend demonstrated a
preference for social appeals over functional and sensory appeals (Functional =
12.82; Social = 9.82; Sensory = 9.47). Also, under the low involvement
condition, idiocentrics showed no particular preference for a particular type of
appeal, supporting hypothesis 2. However, comparing the means demonstrates a
stronger preference for sensory and functional appeals over social appeals
(Functional = 9.84; Social = 9.47 and Sensory = 12.82). Hypothesis 3 stated
that under high involvement conditions, allocentrics will demonstrate a more
positive attitude toward social appeals as compared to functional and sensory
appeals. The hypothesis was significantly supported (F(2,32) = 4, p< .05) with
the attitude toward social appeals being proven to be of a greater effect size
than functional and/or sensory appeals (Social = 16.29; Functional = 11.91 and
Sensory = 11.23). Similarly, the data supported hypothesis 4 significantly
(F(2, 32) = 9.64, p<.005), showing that high idiocentrics have a stronger
preference for functional appeals (M = 13.53) than for social (M = 9.53) and
sensory appeals (M = 9.18). The results of the first part are demonstrated in
In the context of the cognitive effects, high involvement levels for
allocentrics led to a stronger cognitive response toward social appeals (M =
16.3) than for functional (M = 15.4) and sensory appeals (M = 15.91). Although
the effect wasn't significant, there was considerable difference between the
effect size of the social appeal and the next ranked appeal. Also, under low
involvement conditions, low idiocentrics demonstrated a greater preference for
sensory appeals (M = 15.88) than for social (M = 13.18) or functional (M =
11.88) appeals. In agreement with the nomological network, high Idiocentrics,
under high involvement situations demonstrated significantly (F(2, 32) = 5.14, p
< .05) stronger effect for functional appeals (M = 17) than for sensory (M =
14.06) or social (M = 12.65) appeals. Also, under low involvement situations,
idiocentrics demonstrated their significantly stronger (F(2, 32) = 5.30, p < .
05) preference for sensory appeals (M = 17.71) than for functional (M = 14.12)
or social (M = 12.12) appeals. The findings for the cognitive effects for all
four interaction cells support the nomological network of this study. Although
significant effects were not observed with either high or low involvement
situations for allocentrics, the effect sizes were strong enough to argue that
the data pointed in the direction of the theoretical framework. Also, for
idiocentrics, the results supported the nomological network both for high and
low involvement situations.
Table 1: The attitude toward functional, social and sensory appeals for the
No Significant Effects
Attitude-Social = 11.53
Attitude-Functional = 11.29
Attitude-Sensory = 8.71
Significant (F(2,32) = 4, p< .05)
Social = 16.29;
Functional = 11.91 and
Sensory = 11.23
No Significant effects
Sensory = 12.82
Functional = 9.84;
Social = 9.47
Significant F(2, 32) = 9.64, p<.005
Functional = 13.53
Social = 9.53
Sensory = 9.18
Table 2: The Interaction between Involvement and Idiocentrism for Cognitive
Not significant effects
Sensory appeals (M = 15.88)
Social (M = 13.18)
Functional (M = 11.88) appeals
Not significant effects
Social appeals (M = 16.3) Functional (M = 15.4)
Sensory appeals (M = 15.91)
Significant (F(2, 32) = 5.30, p < . 05)
Sensory appeals (M = 17.71)
Functional (M = 14.12) or
Social (M = 12.12) appeals
Significant (F(2, 32) = 5.14, p < .05) Functional appeals (M = 17)
Sensory (M = 14.06)
Social (M = 12.65)
Allocentric respondents under low involvement conditions demonstrated
significantly (F(2, 32) = 4.00, p< .05) stronger higher order responses such as
"intention to change behavior" for functional appeals (M = 16.29), followed by
social (M = 14.17) and sensory appeals (M = 11.65). Under high involvement
situations, allocentrics demonstrated non-significant results, with greater
preference for functional appeals (M = 18.4) than for sensory (M = 16.64) and
social appeals (M = 16.32). Under situations of low involvement, idiocentrism
led to non-significant effects although functional appeals (M = 18.11) were
preferred over sensory (M = 15.77) and social appeals (M = 15.47). Idiocentrism
demonstrated non-significant effects under high involvement situations,
maintaining a stronger preference for functional appeals (M = 17.59) than for
sensory (M = 16.59) or social appeals (M = 15.65). The results are demonstrated
in Table 3.
Table 3: The Interaction between Idiocentrism and Involvement in the Context of
Significant (F(2, 32) = 4.00, p< .05)
Functional appeals (M = 16.29)
Social (M = 14.17)
Sensory appeals (M = 11.65)
Non Significant Effects
Functional appeals (M = 18.4) Sensory (M = 16.64)
Social appeals (M = 16.32)
Non Significant Effects
Functional appeals (M = 18.11)
Sensory (M = 15.77)
Social appeals (M = 15.47)
Non Significant Effects
Functional appeals (M = 17.59) Sensory (M = 16.59)
Social appeals (M = 15.65)
The current study examined the role played by idiocentrism-allocentrism in
shaping the attitudes, cognitions and behavioral intentions of members of
audience when they are exposed to different appeal types. The normative model
of appeal categorization was used. Even though idiocentrism has been widely
studied at cross-cultural levels in the context of commercial advertising and
marketing literature, little effort has been made in understanding the
manifestations of individualism at the individual level. Individualism has not
been looked at as a segmentation variable to divide the audience members.
Neither has the field of health communication looked at this construct. Given
the strong cross-cultural nature of health communication work,
individualism-collectivism and idiocentrism-allocentrism serve important
functions in understanding the effectiveness of persuasive messages.
As the results indicated, idiocentrism-allocentrism is a significant personality
construct that affects audience response to advertising appeals. Involvement
serves as a significant moderating variable that affects the impact of
idiocentrism on consumer attitude, cognition, and behavioral intention.
At the attitudinal level, the results clearly indicated that low idiocentrism
positively affected the preference for social appeals, confirming the
theoretical framework of this study. On the other hand, high idiocentrism led
to a greater preference for functional appeals over other appeal types. The
level of involvement served as a moderating variable and did exhibit significant
interaction effects with idiocentrism. High levels of involvement led to
significantly strong effect sizes in the context idiocentrism and allocentrism.
Low levels of involvement, as argued by Han and Shavitt (1994) did not
demonstrate a marked preference for a particular appeal type. Therefore, in the
context of public health campaigns, it becomes extremely important to assess the
level of involvement of the audience members in a particular population. Only
when a high level of involvement has been achieved will
allocentrism-idiocentrism play a role in shaping attitudes toward functional,
social, or sensory appeal types. This implication modifies the normative model
of image appeals. According to the normative model (Park, Jaworski and
MacInnis, 1986), depth strategies are more effective than breadth strategies
because a clearly defined brand image enables consumers to identify the needs
satisfied by a brand (Roth, 1995). Based on the findings of this paper, it may
be argued that only under high levels of involvement will members of the
audience be sensitive to the particular image type that is matches their needs.
Therefore, breadth strategies will be more successful under low levels of
involvement while depth strategies will be more successful under high levels of
involvement. AIDS campaigns must aim at increasing the levels of involvement of
the audience members and then targeting the audience with an image strategy that
fits their idiocentric-allocentric character.
At the cognitive level, under high involvement, both allocentrics and
idiocentrics demonstrated stronger effects for social and functional appeals
respectively, in agreement with the theoretical framework of this study.
However, under low levels of involvement, the respondents demonstrated their
preference for sensory appeals over other appeal types. This is in agreement
with the findings of Flora and Maibach (1990) suggesting that sensory/emotional
appeals had stronger cognitive effects than other appeal types. It may be
argued that under low involvement conditions, people process messages through
the peripheral route (Petty and Cacioppo, 1983), making classically conditioned
associations with issue-relevant or secondary cues (Kelman, 1961; Mitchell and
Olson, 1981; Mowen, 1980) which may be positive or negative in nature.
At the behavioral intention level, irrespective of the level of involvement or
the level of idiocentrism-allocentrism, respondents demonstrated a preference
for functional appeals over other appeal types. The results did not demonstrate
any significant difference in the appeal types, except for idiocentrics under a
low level of involvement. As suggested by earlier studies, behavior is one of
the most difficult things to change. Although change may be achieved at the
attitudinal and cognitive levels, respondents are much more resistant to
behavioral changes. This may be the reason for the non-significant effects in
the context of behavioral intention. Furthermore, the preference for functional
appeal types over other appeals may be substantiated by the argument that, in
the context of AIDS or any other public health issue, behavior is central to the
person's self-concept. Especially in the AIDS environment, when people are
concerned about preventive issues, it boils down to the functional issue of
saving one's life. One advertisement will not elicit behavior changes based on
idiocentrism-allocentrism. However, a consistent campaign focusing on a depth
approach based on the normative model may be able to achieve the desired
behavioral change more effectively with an audience consistent theme that
anchors on idiocentrism-allocentrism. Future research should look at the long
term effects of functional, social, sensory appeals on allocentrics/idiocentrics
when administered in the form of a depth-based campaign. Longitudinal studies
may be conducted to study the process of attitudinal, cognitive and behavioral
changes in situations of low and high involvement with respect to the level of
The findings of this study suggest that idiocentrism does play a pivotal role in
affecting preference for appeal types. Involvement emerges to be a significant
moderating factor that needs to be considered when designing campaigns.
Furthermore, traditional segmentation variables such as demographic and
geographic need to be reconsidered. Instead, research should start focusing on
other variables such as personality, beliefs and values. Audience segments may
be clustered together based on their shared values and beliefs. This provides
direction for an entirely new dimension of research in public health both from
theoretical and applied perspectives. Cultures and sub-cultures may be studied
in the context of individualism and the effects that may be observed at a
cultural level. In the context of cross-cultural campaigns, that would
definitely be an excellent deviating from the Eurocentric approaches that have
dictated the field of public health. Campaigns may be designed at enhancing the
level of audience involvement and targeting the audience with consistent
culture-sensitive messages based on the depth strategy proposed in the normative
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