Increasing Safety Belt Use: Effects of Modeling and Trip Length1


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    The authors thank Charles Brewer, Gilles Einstein, and Mark Leary for their helpful comments on the manuscript. Lynley Durrett, Kevin Grant, Suzanne Houseworth, and Linda Perry assisted in collecting the data.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Elaine C Nocks, Department of Psychology, Furman University, Greenville, SC 29613.


Effects of modeling on car safety belt use were investigated in a field experiment. Modeling, anticipated trip length, and gender of the model were manipulated in a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial design. Sixty-four female college students were told that they were to participate in an experiment that would take place in another location, requiring a drive either of less than one mile or of several miles. The driver either used or did not use a safety belt. Subjects' belt use was significantly related to the model's behavior. When the driver used a safety belt, 77.4% of the subjects used one; when the driver did not use a safety belt, only 313% of the subjects used one. A significant effect for trip length was also found. In the long trip condition, 71.9% of the subjects used a belt; in the short trip condition, 35.5% used one. Results are interpreted as support for a social learning theory approach to increasing voluntary safety belt use.