Message source characteristics and employee assistance program advertising : beliefs in program effectiveness and intentions to self- refer

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Sturmer, Paul J.
Gerstein, Lawrence H.
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Counseling Psychology and Guidance Services
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Research indicates that the majority of clients seeking Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services are self-referred, and that a relationship exists between self-referral and the belief that an EAP is effective. Fifty-three subjects read an advertisement proclaiming that a fictitious EAP was effective. Following the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM), motivation to elaborate upon the advertisement's arguments was manipulated and two message sources (EAP clients; a fictitious professional consulting firm) were used. Although motivation had no effect on subjects' belief that the EAP was effective or their intention to self-refer, participants exposed to the less expert, trustworthy, and believable source (EAP clients) experienced a greater reduction in their self-referral intention than participants exposed to the more expert, trustworthy, and believable source (consulting firm). A positive correlation between belief in the EAP and self-referral intention was found. Implications for the ELM, EAP advertising, and research are discussed.