Using Virtual Reality in E-Cigarette and Secondhand Aerosol Prevention Messages: Implications for Emotional Campaign Design

Zhan Xu, Linda Dam, Suji Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Vaping has dramatically increased in recent years among young adults. To increase risk perceptions and promote preventive behaviors against vaping and secondhand e-cigarette aerosol (SHA), this study designed and tested virtual reality (VR) messages based on the theory of psychological distance. We randomly assigned 137 participants to see one of three messages: a VR message presenting SHAs impact on the self (VR-Self), a VR message showing SHAs impact on others (VR-Other), and a print advertisement. Risk perceptions and preventive intentions/behaviors were assessed at three different times: before, immediately after, and 1 week after the experimental treatment. All three messages increased desired intentions and risk perceptions immediately, reduced vaping interest both immediately and 1 week after message exposure, and increased behavior to persuade others to quit vaping after a week. Compared with the print advertisement, VR-Other generated less vaping interest immediately following message exposure (β = 1.40, p = 0.05). After 1 week, VR-Self (β = 1.62, p = 0.05) and VR-Other (β = 2.37, p = 0.01) generated less vaping interest than the print advertisement. VR-Other also generated a higher level of perceived harm of SHA (β = 1.27, p = 0.01) than the print advertisement. VRs advantage over print in reducing vaping interest was increased after 1 week. Although VR-Other generated less emotions, such as fear, than VR-Self (z = 2.48, p = 0.02) and print (z = -2.82, p = 0.02), its persuasiveness was not hindered. Disgust increased the intentions to persuade others to quit vaping immediately after the experimental treatment (β = 0.85, p = 0.02), and anger aroused by recalling the messages decreased vaping interest 1 week later (β = -2.07, p = 0.02).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-287
Number of pages9
JournalCyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023


  • campaign
  • e-cigarette
  • emotions
  • psychological distance
  • vaping
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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