When it's good to feel bad: How responses to virtual environments predict real-life sexual risk-reduction
John L. Christensen, University of Southern California, United States
University of Southern California . Awarded
We examined relationships between sexual risk-taking and self-conscious negative affect following exposure to a narrative-based HIV-prevention video. The intervention, designed for men who have sex with men, simulates the interpersonal, emotional, and contextual cues of a sexual scenario. One group viewed an interactive version of the video in which they actively made decisions while a second group passively viewed a non-interactive version. Subjects reporting higher levels of post-intervention negative affect experienced greater subsequent risk-reduction, F(1, 96) = 13.1, p < .001. This effect was qualified by a significant interaction with interactivity, F(1, 96) = 9.62, p = .003, such that the relationship between higher negative affect and risk-reduction was much stronger in the interactive condition. The findings suggest that interactivity plays a critical role in the intervention's ability to link affect with subsequent behavior. Unlike traditional approaches, our intervention may result in the automatic encoding of affective cautionary signals.
Christensen, J.L. When it's good to feel bad: How responses to virtual environments predict real-life sexual risk-reduction. Master's thesis, University of Southern California.
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