Visual Attention to Alcohol Cues and Responsible Drinking Statements Within Alcohol Advertisements and Public Health Campaigns: Relationships With Drinking Intentions and Alcohol Consumption in the Laboratory

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Abstract

Both alcohol advertising and public health campaigns increase alcohol consumption in the short term, and this may be attributable to attentional capture by alcohol-related cues in both types of media. The present studies investigated the association between (a) visual attention to alcohol cues and responsible drinking statements in alcohol advertising and public health campaigns, and (b) next-week drinking intentions (Study 1) and drinking behavior in the lab (Study 2). In Study 1, 90 male participants viewed 1 of 3 TV alcohol adverts (conventional advert; advert that emphasized responsible drinking; or public health campaign; between-subjects manipulation) while their visual attention to alcohol cues and responsible drinking statements was recorded, before reporting their drinking intentions. Study 2 used a within-subjects design in which 62 participants (27% male) viewed alcohol and soda advertisements while their attention to alcohol/soda cues and responsible drinking statements was recorded, before completing a bogus taste test with different alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. In both studies, alcohol cues attracted more attention than responsible drinking statements, except when viewing a public health TV campaign. Attention to responsible drinking statements was not associated with intentions to drink alcohol over the next week (Study 1) or alcohol consumption in the lab (Study 2). However, attention to alcohol portrayal cues within alcohol advertisements was associated with ad lib alcohol consumption in Study 2, although attention to other types of alcohol cues (brand logos, glassware, and packaging) was not associated. Future studies should investigate how responsible drinking statements might be improved to attract more attention.

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