Previous research in unhealthy eating behaviours has reported that an Evaluative Conditioning task is one intervention which may lead to attitudinal change. Evaluative conditioning refers to changes in the liking of a stimulus (conditioned stimulus) when it is paired with a negative stimulus (unconditioned stimulus). This project developed a computerised evaluative conditioning task to assess if pairing images of people using a hand-held mobile phone with images of the negative consequences associated with this behaviour (e.g. a crash, social disapproval, or a fine) will lead to attitudinal change and subsequently, a reduction in using a hand-held phone while driving. Self-report measures were used to measure pre- and post-attitudes, behavioural intentions, and actual behaviour of male and female drivers aged 17-45 years. While it is acknowledged that both behaviours (unhealthy eating and mobile phone use) have different motivational elements (i.e., eating for survival vs. choosing to use a mobile phone while driving), both behaviours results in negative outcomes (e.g., unhealthy eating may lead to heart disease and using a mobile phone while driving may result in a crash). Thus, evaluative conditioning has the potential to positively influence drivers’ beliefs towards mobile phone while driving.
The findings of this research may inform the development of a road safety intervention designed to reduce mobile phone use (e.g. a mobile phone application aimed to reduce hand-held phone use when driving). Dependent upon the findings of this project, further research could build evidence for the feasibility of the proposed method and potentially develop an online evaluative conditioning intervention which could be delivered to Australian drivers.
Funding / Grants
- Budget Direct (2017 - 2018)