Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Journalism and Mass Communications

First Advisor

Robert McKeever


This dissertation applied the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) model variables of attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control, along with the variable of fear to explain individuals’ behavioral intentions to vape. Previous studies have explored the social appeal, intrigue, and potential consequences of vaping among adolescent and college student populations. However, these past studies have largely relied upon focus groups and self-reported data conducted among samples of teen, adolescent, and college student populations. Thus, the aims and designs of these previous vaping studies may have been lacking in construct validity and a theoretical approach from which to explain behavioral intentions to vape among a wider, more generalizable population. Additionally, other health behavior research studies, specifically in the context of cigarette smoking and e-cigarette behaviors have shown the capability of factors such as fear or uncertainty for the behavioral outcome to function as a strong predictor of intentions or even mediate the predictive relationship.

This dissertation had two research objectives: 1) To apply and test an extended version of the TPB model, with the inclusion of fear, to predict and examine behavioral intentions to vape. 2) To investigate the effectiveness of gain/loss framed visual-based warnings vs. text-only gain/loss framed messages in influencing behavioral intentions to vape. More specifically, the proposed model within this dissertation study tested gain and loss framed messages with either visual images or text as separate, experimentally manipulated independent variables. Also, the predictive influence of the TPB variables of attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control on the dependent variable of behavioral intentions, mediated by fear.

To achieve these objectives this study applied a 2 (gain vs. loss) x 2 (image vs. no image) online experiment design. The sample for this study was U.S. adults over the age of twenty-two (N = 162). Each participant was randomly assigned to one of the four stimuli conditions and completed a pre-stimuli exposure and post-stimuli exposure questionnaire. This research study proposed and tested a meaningful expansion to the scope of the TPB model, specifically in the context of predicting health behaviors and provides insights to better inform future health communication and social behavioral interventions.


© 2023, Carl Arland Ciccarelli