Targeting Anti-Smoking Messages

Does Audience Race Matter?

Published In: Addictive Behaviors, v. 37, no. 7, July 2012, p. 844-847

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2012

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

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This study examined whether an adolescent's self-identified race moderates the perceived effectiveness of anti-smoking messages. A sample of 94 never smoking adolescents (59% African-American; 41% European-American) participated in this two-part study. First, they rated the persuasive strength of a series of five decontextualized anti-smoking messages (i.e., messages delivered in text format). Second, they were exposed to five sets of anti-smoking public service announcements (PSAs; viewed as TV advertisements) that had embedded in them the five anti-smoking messages used in the first part of the study and rated their smoking refusal self-efficacy after each one. Although race moderated participants' ratings of the decontextualized messages, there were no significant moderating effects of race when those messages were embedded in PSAs. The results of this study support the notion that anti-smoking PSAs should not be targeted to adolescent racial background, but suggests that decontextualized anti-smoking messages may be more effective if targeted to adolescent race.

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