This project seeks to understand the cognitive processes through which television advertising influences alcohol use in adolescents. Two cognitive mediational approaches are emphasized. One etiologic approach emphasizes implicit cognition and memory association. Formal theories explaining these cognitive processes have been well developed (e.g., neural network and semantic memory approaches to memory activation) and have shown much explanatory power in cognitive science. This framework assumes that alcohol use is not primarily governed by introspective (or highly rational) decisions in which alternative consequences are weighed. The second etiological approach emphasized in this project is an explicit cognition, or outcome expectancy framework. This approach assumes that beliefs about the effects of alcohol enter into a reasoned decision process, exemplified in many previous studies on alcohol use decisions. Because previous research suggests that both implicit and explicit cognition may be important mediators of alcohol use and advertising effects, the present project focuses on both of these cognitive processes. First, two small studies are conducted to evaluate advertising exposure and mediational measures, to ensure that the present project is the most rigorous possible. Next, an intensive 4-year longitudinal investigation of adolescents is proposed, providing formal tests of advertising and mediational effects. Health implications of this project include: 1) advances in the understanding of the role of alcohol advertising in the etiology of alcohol use and abuse; 2) advances in the understanding of the mediators of advertising effects and alcohol use habits over time; 3) increased understanding of differences in reasoned, explicit processes and more automatic, implicit processes in determining alcohol use and abuse; 4) improvements in behavioral and health outcomes of individuals, either through policy changes or interventions stemming from etiological research on the causes of alcohol abuse.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1-FF (03))
Program Officer
Salaita, Kathy
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University of Southern California
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Medicine
Los Angeles
United States
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