Do PSAs Take a Bite Out of Shark Week? The Effects of Juxtaposing Environmental Messages With Violent Images of Shark Attacks

Jessica Gall Myrick, Suzannah D. Evans

A between-subjects experiment (N = 531) studied the juxtaposition of programming from the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week with shark conservation public service announcements (PSAs). Cultivation and priming theories provided a conceptual framework for testing how shark-on-human violence paired with different types of PSAs (celebrity endorser present or not) influence audiences’ emotional reactions, threat perceptions, willingness to support conservation, and intentions to seek information. Findings reveal that shark-on-human violence and presence of a PSA influence fear reactions and perceived threat of shark attacks. Findings related to conservation support, information seeking, and the role of previous Shark Week viewing and demographics are also discussed.

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