Project Overview +

The overarching research question is to investigate whether message tailoring affects the uptake of the HPV vaccine in a young adult population. In the current pilot study investigators hope to effectively design internet-based HPV vaccine materials that are adaptable for specific tailoring in future research based on our results.

Aims +

Aim 1: Compare the impact of fear appeals versus control messages on participants’ immediate HPV vaccine uptake behavioral intentions, and their longer-term actual vaccine uptake behaviors.

Aim 2: Determine which participant characteristics can help to increase vaccine uptake behaviors in the presence of fear appeals, in order to design effective tailored interventions.

Aim 3: Examine whether emotional responses mediate the above effects.

Hypothesis 3: We expect that more emotionally reactive participants will have internalizing emotional responses to fear appeals (e.g. anxiety, distress, fear), and that these emotional responses will be associated with more vaccine-compliant responses. In contrast, we expect that more logical participants will have externalizing emotional responses to the fear appeals (e.g. irritability, annoyance, anger), which will be associated with less vaccine-compliant responses.

Participants +

At Time 1 (baseline) we recruit 400 participants (200 females aged 18-26 and 200 males aged 18 to 21 – the ages for which the HPV vaccine is approved) from MTURK, a website operated by, where people sign up for studies and other tasks for small payments. To be eligible, participants must be ≥18 years old and not have received any HPV vaccine doses prior to enrollment.

Intervention +

Participants are randomly assigned to receive materials with fear appeals (e.g. images of genital warts) or control images (e.g. an image of a male or female – matched to participant sex). Images are accompanied by information about HPV (e.g. causes, risk factors, prevention) and the HPV vaccine, including practical information about how to get the vaccine. Information is identical across conditions.

HPV Vaccination and You

09/01/2012 - 08/31/2013


National Cancer Institute

Principal Investigator:

Sara H. Konrath, PhD