Alcohol depictions are increasingly present in television content in the form of product placements. This is partially attributable to the alcohol industry's self-regulation of traditional advertising and the lack of government oversight. This research seeks to provide evidence of how embedded alcohol messages in television programming contribute to the development of teenagers'attitudes and beliefs about drinking, and ultimately shape their alcohol consumption behaviors. The purpose of the proposed research is to develop experimental stimuli that replicate real world television programs and that integrate different types of embedded alcohol messages so that the effects on audiences can be assessed in a controlled manner. In phase one, the experimental stimuli will be created using the theatre methodology, a unique methodology that replicates the television program context but also allows full control over the messages integrated into the story. An original script will be developed and pre-tested. The screenplay will be professionally filmed and edited to mimic an authentic studio production. Eight versions will be created via digital editing so that the alcohol message will vary based on a 2 (Modality: Visual - Audio) x 2 (Plot Connection: Low - High) X 2 (Valence: Positive vs. Negative) design. In phase two, the stimuli will be used in two between-subjects experiments to investigate the role and interplay of three characteristics of the embedded alcohol message (valence, modality of presentation and plot connection) and one variable that affects the viewing context, warning conditions. The predictions about how alcohol messages affect viewers'drinking attitudes and beliefs are organized according to the two information processing stages of the reception-yielding model of persuasion and integrate research on levels of processing and elaboration likelihood. The reception stage focuses on attention to and understanding of the message communicated and the yielding stage on acceptance (or rejection) of the message. In both experiments, pre- post test designs will allow an assessment of the program's impact on the change in alcohol attitudes, beliefs, and intentions caused by exposure to the television stimuli. Given the societal impact of alcohol on America's youth, the research will be tested on individuals 14 to 16 years of age using an online survey methodology. Together, the proposed studies will provide causal evidence regarding the relationship between the placement of alcohol messages in television programs and alcohol- related attitudes and behavioral intentions amongst youth. They will extend our understanding of how and through what processes media images of alcohol affect teenagers'perceptions of alcohol and drinking intentions and guide the development of prevention strategies to counter the effects of television-based alcohol messages on young audiences.

Public Health Relevance

This research studies how alcohol messages embedded in television programming affect teenagers'drinking attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Teenagers are susceptible to television influences and alcohol is increasingly present in the content of television programs. We investigate the impact on teenagers of different types of alcohol messages embedded in a television series episode and we also investigate whether warnings about the presence of alcohol messages change the relation between exposure and teenagers'drinking attitudes and intentions.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
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Risk, Prevention and Intervention for Addictions Study Section (RPIA)
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Shirley, Mariela
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Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
United States
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Russell, Cristel Antonia; Russell, Dale Wesley; Grube, Joel W et al. (2017) Alcohol Storylines in Television Episodes: The Preventive Effect of Countering Epilogues. J Health Commun 22:657-665
Russell, Cristel Antonia; Buhrau, Denise (2015) The role of television viewing and direct experience in predicting adolescents' beliefs about the health risks of fast-food consumption. Appetite 92:200-6
Russell, Cristel Antonia; Russell, Dale Wesley; Boland, Wendy Attaya et al. (2014) Television's Cultivation of American Adolescents' Beliefs about Alcohol and the Moderating Role of Trait Reactance. J Child Media 8:5-22
Russell, Cristel Antonia; Russell, Dale W (2010) Guilty by stereotypic association: Country animosity and brand prejudice and discrimination. Mark Lett 21:413-425