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Changing health knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions: An analysis of how much educational content should be inserted into an entertainment-education program

, Michigan State University, United States

Michigan State University . Awarded


The last two decades have witnessed the growth of entertainment-education (EE), a process of educating audiences about social issues through entertaining mass media to catalyze prosocial change. This study adds to the growing literature on entertainment-education by (a) determining the optimal educational dosage that should be inserted into an EE television program, (b) applying theories of cognitive load and boredom, and (c) providing a controlled, experimental test of television EE.

In order to accomplish these tasks, an experiment was conducted that manipulated the amount of prostate cancer education in an EE program. After random assignment to one of four treatment conditions (i.e., education level one, education level two, education level three, and education level four), two hundred undergraduate students (50 per condition) from a large, Southern university watched a 32-minute video edited from a popular American primetime television drama. When the participants finished watching the video for their treatment condition, they completed a posttest measuring outcomes (i.e., knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions), intervening variables (i.e., cognitive load and boredom), manipulation checks, confounds, and demographics.

Three hypotheses and two research questions were tested and asked. In terms of the hypotheses, curvilinear, ogive (i.e., small r-shaped curve) relationships were predicted between (a) education and outcomes, (b) education and intervening variables, and (c) intervening variables and outcomes. Additionally, two questions were raised. First, does cognitive load or boredom have more influence on knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions, and second, what type of relationships exist between entertainment, education, and outcomes?

Data were analyzed with analysis of variance, analysis of covariance, correlations, and regression. Overall findings show no support for the three hypotheses, but they provide answers to the research questions. Specifically, manipulated education was not related to knowledge, attitude, or behavioral intention, but it was positively associated with cognitive load and boredom. Both cognitive load and boredom were inversely related to collective knowledge and attitudes, but only load was positively associated with behavioral intention. Cognitive load had a greater negative influence on outcomes than boredom. In contrast, perceived education was positively related to outcomes. Perceived entertainment was positively related to knowledge and behavioral intentions, but it had no relationship with attitudes. Finally, theoretical and practical recommendations are provided for future EE television programs and studies.


Patel, D.S. Changing health knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions: An analysis of how much educational content should be inserted into an entertainment-education program. Ph.D. thesis, Michigan State University. Retrieved December 19, 2018 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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