This study used self-reports and physiological measures—heart rate (HR) and skin conductance level (SCL)—to examine the effects of novelty appeals, sexual appeals, narrative versus statistical evidence, and viewer’s sex on cognitive and emotional processing of HIV/AIDS public service announcements (PSAs) among heterosexually active single college students. Novelty or sexual appeals differently affected self-reported attention and cognitive effort as measured by HR. High- rather than low-novelty HIV/AIDS PSAs, perceived as more attention-eliciting, did not lead to more cognitive effort. High- rather than low-sex HIV/AIDS PSAs, not perceived as more attention-eliciting, led to more cognitive effort as reflected by greater HR deceleration. Novelty or sexual appeals also affected self-reported emotional arousal and SCL differently. HIV/AIDS PSAs with high rather than low levels of novelty or sexual appeals led to greater self-reported arousal, but not greater SCL. Message evidence interacted with message appeals to affect cognitive effort. Participants exerted greater cognitive effort during high- rather than low-novelty narrative HIV/AIDS PSAs, and during low- rather than high-novelty statistical ones. The advantage of high over low sexual appeals was more obvious in statistical than in narrative HIV/AIDS PSAs. Males reported greater emotional arousal than females during high- rather than low-sex HIV/AIDS PSAs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)