Mass media campaigns are a commonly used approach to reduce sugary drink consumption, which is linked to obesity in children and adolescents. The present study investigated the direct and mediated effects of emotional appeals in public service advertisements (PSAs) that aired between 2010 and 2012 on adolescents intention to reduce their sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption. An online randomized experiment was conducted with a national sample of adolescent respondents ages 13 to 17 years old (N = 805). Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 conditions. Three experimental conditions represented PSAs with different emotional appeals: humor, fear, and nurturance, plus a fourth control condition. The outcome was adolescents intention to cut back on SSBs. The direct effect of fear appeals on intention was mediated through adolescents perception of the PSAs argument strength; perceived argument strength was also the key mediator for the indirect effects of humor and nurturance on intention. Several hypothesized mediators influenced by the appeals were not associated with intention. This is the first study to test the effect of persuasive emotional appeals used in SSB-related PSAs. The perceived strength of the PSAs arguments is important to consider in the communication of messages designed to reduce SSB consumption.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Library and Information Sciences