Research on vested interest theory (VIT) indicates that the importance and hedonic relevance of attitudes moderates the link between attitudes and attitude-congruent behavior. Though largely untested in prevention research, this relationship may prove crucial in determining the success or failure of prevention efforts. The current study was designed to determine if subjectively perceived vested interest maximized the association between attitudes and intentions regarding the nonmedical use of prescription stimulants (NUPS).
A cross-sectional survey was conducted with college student respondents (N = 162) using Amazon's MTurk. Participant age ranged from 19 to 49 years old. A subsample analysis (n = 129) was also conducted with younger respondents, as the typical college student is usually under the age of 30.
Four-step hierarchical regression analysis indicated that both attitudes and perceived vested interest were significantly associated with NUPS behavioral intentions (p < .001). Further, vested interest moderated the relationship between stimulant-related attitudes and usage intentions (p < .001). Attitudes were significantly associated with intentions of moderately and highly vested respondents (p < .001), but not those of participants expressing low levels of perceived vested interest.
Findings support the proposition that vested interest may be a useful target for attenuating NUPS. Rather than attempting to weaken positive attitudes toward NUPS, campaigns may prove more successful if designed to convince receivers that NUPS is not in their best interest.