Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Hyunyi Cho

Committee Chair

Hyunyi Cho

Committee Member 1

Sorin Matei

Committee Member 2

Glenn Sparks


College males’ uptake of human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination is low. Prior research indicates perceived susceptibility to HPV among college males is also low. Construal level theory may offer a framework to alter perceived susceptibility and intention to vaccinate, but little research has examined this potential. Construal level theory provides foundational elements including that low construal level of perceptions is associated with more proximal psychological distance (hypothetical, social, temporal and spatial). Research indicates a disparity in college males’ susceptibility estimates which suggests high hypothetical distance. A reduction in hypothetical distance should be indicated by a measured increase in perceived susceptibility. Additionally, if construal level primed by messages is consistently associated with stage of change, then movement through stages of change might be promoted by influencing construal level such that perceived hypothetical distance is reduced. Additionally, the impact of interactivity on construal level and associated outcomes was explored. This study included two online experiments. In the first, a message was presented in components based on construal level dimensions. The second experiment was a 2x2, including high construal interactive message, low construal interactive message, high construal non-interactive message, and low construal non-interactive message conditions. The outcome variables of interest in both cases are hypothetical distance, barrier construal, stage of change and intention to vaccinate for HPV. Construal level dimensions did not offer explanatory value to the relationship between barriers and stage of change, a temporal measure of vaccination intention. However, the results indicate that perceptions of messages as lower construal are associated with increases in perceived susceptibility and intention to vaccinate for HPV. Perceived interactivity was associated with reduced social distance and increase in intention to vaccinate. This study suggests that construal level theory may be useful in the formative evaluations for HPV-related campaigns targeting males. This study also supports the addition of interactive elements to health campaigns, however the exact type of interactivity warrants further research. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.

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Communication Commons