Recent data indicate that exposure to televised alcohol advertising among U.S. adolescents increased 71% from 2001-2009 (CAMY, 2010). Although research suggests an association between exposure to alcohol advertising and youth drinking (Anderson et al., 2009), causal effects for such relations have yet to be identified. The proposed work aims to investigate a potential causal mechanism for the effects of alcohol advertising and marketing on adolescents'alcohol-related attitudes and behaviors. The over-arching hypothesis advanced here is that alcohol advertising and marketing efforts affect basic motivational and attentional processes with known links to approach and consummatory behavior and related attitudes. We propose that, through changes in these basic processes, exposure to alcohol cues through advertising and marketing shapes alcohol-related attitudes and compels alcohol-seeking and use, and could influence the propensity for risk-taking behavior more generally. This general hypothesis will be investigated using a combined behavioral and psychophysiological approach in three sets of experiments. All proposed experiments will focus on university-enrolled adolescents aged 18-20. Experiments will focus on a common alcohol marketing strategy that might be particularly effective at targeting college students, known as developing a brand community, by affiliating the brand of alcohol with students'university through product displays and placement of ads in university sports broadcasts. This strategy taps into an in-group affiliation motive that could enhance the motivational significance of alcohol brands, resulting in stronger approach and consummatory behavior and alcohol-related attitudes. Experiment Set A will test the extent to which in-group-affiliated alcohol products (vs. nonaffiliated alcohol products) differentially engage motivational and attentional processes in the brain. Experiment Set B will extend the paradigm to a more naturalistic setting in which video ads is embedded in televised programming manipulated to represent in-group or neutral affiliations. Experiment Set C will investigate the consequences of alcohol video advertisement-induced changes in attention and motivational processes for risk-taking behavior.
Underage drinking, particularly by older adolescents, represents a significant public health concern for both the adolescent drinkers themselves and for those whom their drinking impacts. This research will increase understanding of this problem by investigating the ways in which alcohol advertising and marketing affects basic brain processes believed to influence alcohol- related attitudes, drinking behaviors and risk-taking.
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