Anti-drinking adverts can drive you to drink

12.02 | 5 March 2010 |

Researchers studying campaigns aimed at keeping teens and others from drinking and driving, smoking and other risky actions have found that these actually encourage bad behaviour.

The study shows that using shame and guilt to get messages across is ineffective. Adam Duhachek, a marketing professor at Indiana University, said that the ads do more harm than good because they have the potential to spur more of the behaviour they’re trying to prevent.

Duhachek and his colleagues showed that people acting badly already knew it was wrong and the ads were triggering a defensive mindset.

The mind switches to a defence which claims that bad things only happen to other people and allows them to underestimate how vulnerable they are to the consequences.

Duhachek’s advice is that if people want to positively influence drinking, campaigns need to convey both the dire consequences and a message of empowerment. He said that if you’re going to communicate a frightening scenario, temper it with the idea that it’s avoidable.

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