*MU researchers say disgusting and threatening ads can cause strong defense responses from viewers*
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Health communicators have long searched for the most effective ways to convince smokers to quit. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that using a combination of disturbing images and threatening messages to prevent smoking is not effective and could potentially cause an unexpected reaction.
In a study recently published in the Journal of Media Psychology, Glenn Leshner, Paul Bolls and Kevin Wise, co-directors of the Psychological Research on Information and Media Effects (PRIME) Lab at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, found that showing viewers a combination of threatening and disgusting television public service announcements (PSAs) caused viewers to experience the beginnings of strong defensive reactions. The researchers found that when viewers saw the PSAs with both threatening and disgusting material, they tended to withdraw mental resources from processing the messages while simultaneously reducing the intensity of their emotional responses. Leshner says that these types of images could possibly have a “boomerang effect,” meaning the defensive reactions could be so strong that they cause viewers to stop processing the messages in the PSAs. (more…)