Alcohol advertising increases positive non-conscious alcohol attitudes in heavier drinkers

iStock_000071927473_Medium55f1e08f5b0e3.jpgAlcohol marketing may increase alcohol consumption by strengthening positive non-conscious (implicit) attitudes towards alcohol, which could make impulsive alcohol drinking more likely. In a BHRU conducted online experiment, published in Alcohol and Alcoholism, 373 participants aged 18-40 from the general population viewed one of three sets of adverts that included either: (a) alcohol promoting, (b) alcohol warning, or (c) non-alcohol adverts. Viewing alcohol-promoting adverts increased positive implicit attitudes towards alcohol, but only for heavier drinkers. Furthermore, viewing advertisements warning against excessive alcohol-use led to a counterintuitive reduction in negative implicit attitudes towards alcohol, again only for heavier drinkers. These findings suggest that both alcohol promoting and alcohol warning adverts may reinforce positive, non-conscious attitudes that make it difficult for heavier drinkers to reduce their alcohol intake. A study is under way to assess the impact of these advert exposures on actual alcohol consumption.

Cognitive and Behavioural Impact of Alcohol Promoting and Alcohol Warning Advertisements: An Experimental Study. Brown, KG, Stautz, K, Hollands, GJ, Winpenny, EM & Marteau, TM.

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