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Volume 4 2020 Intended or Unintended Adverse Effects? The Impact of Ambiguous "Drink Responsibly" Alcohol Campaign Messages on the Drinking Intentions of College Students

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작성자 Yeonsoo Kim 작성일 20-07-17 12:41
Responsible Drinking   Alcohol Campaign   Strategic Ambiguity   Ambiguous Campaign Message   Drinking Intentions

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Although alcohol companies promote “responsible drinking” health campaign messages voluntarily, critics are skeptical of the industry’s campaign, especially given that its messages are too ambiguous to be effective. This study examined how strategically ambiguous messages, in comparison to informative messages, impact college students’ perception of their knowledge as well as the psychological reactance tendency and subsequently influence the formation of attitudes and intent toward responsible drinking practices and alcohol consumption. How alcohol involvement level interacts with the type of message was also examined. An online experiment revealed that strategically ambiguous messages by alcohol companies may serve to solidify their consumer bases by promoting alcohol consumption among college students. When exposed to ambiguous messages, heavier drinkers reported their perceived knowledge level as significantly higher. The false or naïve perception of knowledge induced by ambiguous messages influenced college students’ formation of more positive attitudes toward drinking and consequently engendered greater intent to drink. While informative messages led to more psychological reactance – especially among heavier drinkers – such aroused reactance did not lead to more favorable attitudes toward drinking or intent to drink, meaning there was no boomerang effect of psychological reactance induced by informative messages. The study concludes that the industry’s alcohol responsibility message carries an “adverse effect” from a public health standpoint. 

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