The relationships among the effects of persuasive appeals, toothbrushing behavior, attitude toward dental hygiene, intention to behave, and reported behavior



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Within the context of a larger over-all investigation of the effects of persuasive communications, the present investigation was implemented in five visits (intrusions) to three junior high schools located in a small suburban community. The first four intrusions occurred at one week intervals, but the fifth intrusion occurred three weeks after the fourth intrusion. The measure of the cognitive aspect of attitude was developed using Semantic Differential procedures. It consisted of three concepts, which were known to have neutral scale values. Each concept was rated on the same three evaluative scales, A disclosing wafer, which, when chewed, stains the teeth red, was employed in a pilot study conducted to develop the behavioral measure. Amount of red on the teeth has been shown to be a function of frequency and quality of toothbrushing. With the use of standard scaling techniques, five 35 color slides of teeth were selected to represent five degrees of cleanliness. The following hypotheses were tested} 1) the cognitive aspect of attitude is related to actual behavior, 2) the cognitive aspect of attitude is related to the behavioral aspect of attitude (intention to behave), 3) intention to behave predicts actual behavior, and 4) reported behavior predicts actual behavior. At the first intrusion, all Ss completed a questionnaire which was designed to assess dental care habits (reported behavior), and photographs of their teeth were taken, after each had chewed a disclosing wafer. At the second intrusion, all Ss completed an example semantic Differential questionnaire, which did not include the three neutral concepts. At the third Intrusion, six sets of Ss--two sets at each of the three schools--were unsystematically assigned to four communication conditions and two control conditions: 1) high fear-, 2) low fear, 3) positive (appeal to popularity motive), 4) elaborated recommendations (detailed instructions concerning proper dental hygiene practices), 5) recommendations only (the set of recommendations which followed all four communications), 6) no communication. After listening to the communications, all Ss rated the three neutral concepts and completed questionnaires designed to assess intention to behave and reported behavior. At the fourth intrusion, all Ss completed the same questionnaires presented to them at the previous intrusion, and photographs of their teeth were taken. The procedure of the fifth intrusion was identical to that of the fourth intrusion. All photographs were developed as slides, and these slides were rated with reference to the five standard slides. Change scores were computed for each s on the behavioral measure and on the reported behavior measure. Each of the four measures was subjected to analysis of variance. Results revealed that the positive and elaborated recommendations communications were most effective in inducing Ss to take better care of their teeth, but neither of the two attitude measures nor the measure of charge in reported behavior were related to the measure of change in actual behavior. However, the two attitude measures were relatively consistent.



Behaviorism, Attitude, Dental care aspects, Care and hygiene