132 Annual Meeting Logo - Go to APHA Meeting Page  
APHA Logo - Go to APHA Home Page

Defensive Processing of Alcohol-Related Social Norms Messages by College Students

Itzhak Yanovitzky, PhD, Department of Communication, Rutgers University, 4 Huntington Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1071, (732)-932-7500 ext. 8123, iy@scils.rutgers.edu

In an effort to reduce dangerous drinking by college students, many colleges and universities nationwide are choosing to employ social norms marketing campaigns. This study evaluates the persuasiveness of messages typically produced by these campaigns. It was hypothesized that studentsí response to social norms messages would vary by their current drinking behavior (as a proxy for their ego involvement level). This proposition was tested with data collected from a representative sample of college students at a large public northeastern university (N=151). The findings demonstrate that, as expected, non-drinkers (low ego involvement individuals) were not affected by typical social norms messages, whereas moderate drinkers (who have higher levels of ego involvement that are sufficient for processing such information objectively) were positively affected by the same messages, and heavy drinkers (highest level of ego involvement) not only rejected these messages but also polarized their drinking-related beliefs following exposure. The implications for the design of future social norms marketing campaigns are discussed.

Learning Objectives:

  • Following this session, participants will be able to

    Keywords: Alcohol Problems, Audience Segmentation

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

    Focus on the Adolescent/Young Adult in Health Communication Research

    The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA