Page last updated: August 17, 2017

College students’ responses to emotional anti-alcohol abuse media messages: should we scare or amuse them?

This study examined college students’ responses to emotional anti-alcohol abuse media messages (i.e., fear vs. humour appeal) aimed at discouraging heavy/ binge drinking. An experiment was conducted with 94 college students. As expected, college students generally expressed higher levels of interest in antialcohol abuse media messages when watching fear appeal than those watching humour appeal. However, college binge drinkers who watched the fear appeal reported lower levels of readiness to change their drinking behaviour than those who watched the humour appeal. This pattern was the opposite among college non-binge drinkers, in that college non-binge drinkers were more likely to say they would change their drinking behaviours when exposed to fear appeal than those who were exposed to humour appeal or those who did not watch any media messages.

The research concludes that conventional fear appeal to scare college binge drinkers seems ineffective and even counterproductive while humour appeal, if well designed, could offer alternative ways to communicate them.

Source: College Students’ Responses to Emotional Anti- Alcohol Abuse Media Messages: Should We Scare or Amuse Them? Lee MJ. Health Promot Pract. 2017 Jul. doi: 10.1177/1524839917711639.

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