The Merging of Commercial Film and Public Health: The Development and Evaluation of a Found Footage Anti-Texting and Driving PSA

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While progress is being made to improve risky driving behaviors, texting and driving is a growing concern for young drivers. Youth are susceptible to film and media influence, and fear appeals are often used in PSAs to discourage risky driving. Found footage filmmaking is common in horror films and is credited with adding to dread and audience connection. This study sought to determine the effectiveness of an anti-texting and driving found footage style PSA on college students. Two PSAs were tested (n=428) using a randomized control pre-posttest study. No significant differences were found between the found footage and external perspective style PSAs. However, the PSAs significantly affected behavioral intent and fear arousal. Qualitative data suggested that quality and realism needed improvement, and that participants viewed both PSAs as potential found footage. More research is needed to determine how found footage and film tactics like these can influence health behaviors.