May 23, 2018
Role of Message Interpretation
Published in: Health Psychology, Volume 36, Number 9 (Epub June 2017), pages 890-897. doi:10.1037/hea0000521
Posted on RAND.org on September 28, 2017
Recent research revealed momentary associations between exposure to alcohol advertising and positive beliefs about alcohol among adolescents (Martino et al., 2016). We reanalyzed those data to determine whether associations depend on adolescents' appraisal of ads.
Over a 10-month period in 2013, 589 youth, ages 11–14, in the Los Angeles, CA, area, participated in a 14-day ecological momentary assessment, logging all exposures to alcohol advertisements as they occurred and completing brief assessments of their skepticism toward, liking of, and identification with any people in each ad, as well as their alcohol-related beliefs at the moment. Participants also completed measures of their alcohol- related beliefs at random moments of nonexposure throughout each day. Mixed-effects regression models compared beliefs about alcohol at moments of exposure to alcohol advertising that was appraised in a particular way (e.g., with liking, without liking) to beliefs at random moments.
When youth encountered ads they appraised positively, their beliefs about alcohol were significantly more positive than when they were queried at random moments. Beliefs in the presence of ads that were not positively appraised were generally similar to beliefs at random moments.
Youth are active participants in the advertising process. How they respond to and process alcohol advertising strongly moderates the association between exposure and alcohol-related beliefs. More effort is needed to identify attributes of alcohol advertisements, and of youth, that determine how youth process alcohol ads. This information can be used to either limit.