Health communication experts continually seek out effective strategies to strengthen persuasive campaigns. While there is evidence that verbal metaphors can improve persuasion, little attention has been given to the potential of visual metaphors to enhance health communication effects. To fill this gap, an experiment was conducted to test the effects of metaphor modality (visual vs. verbal) and type of fear appeal used (death-based or appearance-based) on skin protection intentions. Additionally, the moderating role of an individual characteristic (need for cognition), and the mediating role of two processing outcomes (message elaboration and perceived message effectiveness) were examined. Results indicated that there was no significant difference between the main effects of metaphor modality and type of fear appeal, but these message features interacted making the death-based fear appeal the most effective strategy. Need for cognition directly affected perceptions of effectiveness but did not affect skin protection intentions nor message elaboration. Of the two message processing outcomes examined, only perceived message effectiveness mediated the relationship between metaphor modality and skin protection intentions. Theoretical explanations and practical implications are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Library and Information Sciences