Alcohol Warnings in TV Beer Advertisements: Effects on Alcohol Risk/Benefit Beliefs, Belief Confidence, and Responses to the Ads
Journal of Studies on Alcohol
Objective: Mandated warnings are among the few steps Congress has taken to influence the use of legal substances such as alcohol. The usefulness of such warnings in discouraging abuse of alcohol is, however, controversial. This study examines the impact of televised warnings on probable antecedents of belief change not examined in previous research: confidence in beliefs about beer risks or benefits, and cognitive responses to the advertisements.
Method: The present study (N = 75 male and female college students) tests four of the warnings recommended in Senate Bill 674 (1993--the "Thurmond bill") edited into randomly sampled television beer advertisements, using a between-subjects treatment-and-control experimental design. The four advertisements or advertisement/warning pairs were counterbalanced and analyzed as a repeated measures factor.
Results: The study indicated, as hypothesized, that subjects exposed to warnings tended to have less confidence in their generally skeptical assessments of beer risks--a likely precursor to belief change in resistant populations. Repeated exposure to the advertisements alone also appeared to lead to increased confidence in generally positive assessments of beer benefits, whereas repeated exposure to warnings led to decreased confidence in such assessments. Repeated exposure to warnings also may have primed negative reactions to subsequent beer advertisements.
Conclusions: These results suggest mechanisms by which alcohol warnings may over time influence beliefs. Measures used here may serve as useful criterion variables in future studies on warnings. Further attention to optimizing warning content and presentation is recommended.
Slater, M.D., & Domenech, M. (1995). Alcohol warnings in TV beer advertisements: Effects on alcohol risk/benefit beliefs, belief confidence, and responses to the ads. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 56, 361-367.