Explicit and Implicit Persuasive Communications over Time To Initiate and Maintain Behavior Change: New Perspective Utilizing a Real-life Dental Hygiene Situation12


  • 1

    An extended version of this study was the recipient of the American Psychological Association, Division 13, Research Excellence Award and was presented at a special program at the 1973 American Psychological Association meeting in Montreal, Canada.

  • 2

    This research was supported in the context of Psychology Research Training Grant 5 TI DE 138 from the National Institute of Dental Research under the direction of Richard Evans. Thanks are expressed for the fine cooperation of the Aldine Independent School District, Houston, Texas, and for the supply of dental kits used in the study, which were contributed by the Proctor and Gamble Company. Thanks are expressed to Robert Paver for his able assistance in statistical calculation, and to Rhonda Raymond for training the experimental assistants who performed the Greene-Vermillion Index measures.


Reacting to the failure of most persuasive communications to maintain behavior changes once they are established, in the context of junior high school dental hygiene programs, the present investigation explores the effects of behavioral measurement itself (as an unplanned treatment effect) in maintaining a specific behavior once it is established. Using a modified time-series extension of a basic pretest-treatment-posttest design with a variety of treatment conditions and a novel behavior measure as the dependent variable, it was established that the process of measuring behavior itself was possibly as effective as treatment conditions. All conditions effected behavior changes and maintained them for a 10-week period.