Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychological Science (MSPS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Paul Fuglestad

Second Advisor

Dr. Curtis Phills

Department Chair

Dr. Jody Nicholson

College Dean

Kaveri Subrahmanyam


Previous research indicates a gap in the knowledge regarding the situations in which regulatory fit or non-fit is most effective. Prior research has also demonstrated a gap in tools for encouraging the establishment of sexual consent and a generally negative attitude toward consent by college students regardless of its recognized importance in the college population. Regulatory non-fit (Messages that do not match the chronic regulatory focus of the audience) has also been shown to increase initially negative attitudes (Fridman et al., 2016; Avent et al., 2013). Our hypothesis was that a message of regulatory non-fit, designed to encourage direct, verbal sexual consent, would result in increased positive attitudes toward sexual consent, as moderated by regulatory focus. Study 1 consisted of 241 University of North Florida undergraduate students. Results for the primary analysis did not support the hypothesis. Study 2 consisted of 309 individuals recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Results for the primary analysis were all not statistically significant save one. Regulatory focus was shown to moderator the relation between regulatory fit and positive sexual consent attitude change, p = 0.003, Δ= 0.03. This, however, was not in support of our hypothesis and demonstrated that a message of fit was more beneficial in increasing sexual consent attitudes. Exploratory analyses hinted at the possibility that the initial assumption that negative attitudes could be changed by messages of non-fit was misinformed and that the previous research actually pointed to messages of non-fit being more effective in changing strong, previously existing attitudes. Exploratory analyses also suggest that a message of fit may be more beneficial for those that have less pre-established attitudes. Future research should aim to explore this further and investigate the possibility of regulatory non-fit as a tool for persuading against powerful, previously existing attitudes.

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Psychology Commons