Effects of the issue and Receiver in evaluation of Public Service Advertisements (PSAS): Implications for Public Information Campaigns, Public Relations, and Social Marketing (Advertising)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


George A. Comstock


Mass media, Marketing, Personality, Advertising, public service ads

Subject Categories

Public Relations and Advertising


This dissertation explores the effects of two mediating factors--type of issue (individualistic vs. collectivistic) and type of appeal (individualistic vs. collectivistic)--in regard to the effectiveness of Public service advertisements (PSAs) among individuals who were categorized as idiocentric vs. allocentric in personality dimension.

An experiment with the split-plot factorial design was conducted in which one hundred four college students viewed four pairs of PSAs selected from the archives of the Advertising Council. The PSAs varied by type of issue and type of appeal with all possible pairings employed.

In contrast to what had been found for product advertising and the widespread use in the United States of individualistic appeals for PSAs, individualistic appeals were not favored universally. Collectivistic appeals were more favored for collectivistic issues with respect to evaluation of PSAs and behavioral intention.

The experiment provided particularly compelling findings for the personality variable. Allocentric persons rendered higher evaluation and greater behavioral intention for collectivistic issues presented by collectivistic appeals, while individualistic persons did do for individualistic issues presented by individualistic appeals. When these findings were applied to the domains of issue involvement, social dilemmas, and situational theory, results consistently indicated that individuals tended to respond more favorably to personality relevant issues addressed by personality relevant appeals. The implication is that it is important for practitioners to coordinate individualistic appeals with individualistic issues and collectivistic appeals with collectivistic issues for effective PSAs.

The findings expand the analytical perspective pertaining to PSAs in terms of an interactive effect of type of appeal and issue in evaluation of PSAs and in inducing behavioral intention. These results have practical implications for public information campaigns and public relations and social marketing. Finally, since the constructs of individualism vs. collectivism and allocentrism vs. idiocentrism have near-universal relevance, cross-cultural application of these findings is feasible.


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