Accentuate the Negative: Social Images in the Prediction and Promotion of Condom Use1

Authors


  • 1

    The authors would like to thank Tonya Dodge, Monica Reis-Bergan, and Anne Stuart for comments and assistance on an earlier draft. This research was supported by NIMH Postdoctoral Training Grant #1 F32 MHI 1438-02 and NIMH Grant #1 P50 MH48165-01.

2 Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Hart Blanton, Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Albany, Social Science 112, Albany, NY 12222.

Abstract

Based on the negativity bias in person perception, we argue that behavioral decisions related to condom use are influenced by the social images that an individual has of people who do not use condoms, but that they are not influenced by the social images that an individual has of people who do use condoms. Three studies with college student samples indicated that the negative evaluations of people who do not use condoms predicts willingness to have sex without condoms. In contrast, positive evaluations of people who do use condoms showed no unique predictions. A fourth study demonstrated that a health message emphasizing the negative social consequences of having sex without condoms decreased willingness to have unsafe sex in comparison to a control, whereas a message that emphasized the positive social consequences of using condoms had no such effects on willingness.

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