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Journal Article


Kruvand M, Bryant FB. Public Health Rep. (1974) 2015; 130(6): 655-663.


Loyola University Chicago, Department of Psychology, Chicago, IL.


(Copyright © 2015, Association of Schools of Public Health)








OBJECTIVE: We examined whether or not CDC's zombie apocalypse campaign had the ability to achieve the agency's goals of educating young people about emergency preparedness and prompting them to get ready by developing an emergency kit and plan. While the campaign was extremely popular, we examined the question of whether the campaign had the capability to translate into knowledge and action.

METHODS: We conducted an online experiment with 340 undergraduate students divided randomly into two groups. One group was exposed to CDC's zombie blog post; the other to the same preparedness information presented in CDC's traditional, straightforward way. Participants then completed a survey designed to gauge their affective feelings, perceptions, retention of preparedness preparation, and intent to develop an emergency kit and plan.

RESULTS: While participants who viewed the humorous zombie material clearly enjoyed it, their positive affect did not lead to greater retention of preparedness information or greater expressed intent to prepare, compared with participants exposed to the factual treatment. The zombie approach had no influence on retention or resulted in less retention relative to the factual approach. Also, there was no significant between-group difference in reported likelihood of developing an emergency kit or plan.

CONCLUSION: While the campaign drew unprecedented traffic to CDC's website, our findings suggest that it lacked the capability to fully achieve the agency's goals of educating people about preparedness and prompting them to get ready. This finding supports previous studies concluding that it is challenging to design public health messages that evoke positive affect as well as intended changes in intentions or behaviors.

Language: en


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