Uncovering the Most Effective Active Ingredients of Antismoking Public Service Announcements

The Role of Actor and Message Characteristics

Published in: Nicotine and Tobacco Research, v. 11, no. 5, May 2009, p. 547-552

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2009

by William G. Shadel, Craig S. Fryer, Shannah Tharp-Gilliam

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INTRODUCTION: This study examined whether the appeal of actors (i.e., their likeability and attractiveness) used in antismoking public service announcements (PSAs) interacts with adolescentsα risk of future smoking to predict adolescentsα smoking resistance self-efficacy and whether the antismoking messages in the PSAs further moderate this relationship. METHODS: The authors used a 2 (future smoking risk: low, high) x 2 (actor appeal: low, high) x 3 (PSA antismoking message: tobacco industry manipulation, short-term smoking effects, long-term smoking effects) study design. A diverse sample of 110 adolescents (aged 11₁17 years), with varying levels of experience with smoking, rated their smoking resistance self-efficacy after viewing each of the PSAs in each design cell. RESULTS: Overall, PSAs that used long-term smoking effects messages were associated with the strongest smoking resistance self-efficacy, followed in turn by PSAs that used short-term smoking effects messages and by tobacco industry manipulation messages. We found a significant interaction of actor appeal and PSA antismoking message. The use of more appealing actors was associated with stronger smoking resistance self-efficacy only in long-term smoking effects PSAs. The use of less appealing actors was associated with stronger smoking resistance self-efficacy for tobacco industry manipulation PSAs and short-term smoking effects PSAs. Future smoking risk did not moderate any of these findings. DISCUSSION: Antismoking PSAs that emphasize long-term smoking effects are most strongly associated with increased smoking resistance self-efficacy. The effect of these PSAs can be strengthened by using actors whom adolescents perceive to be appealing.

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