Binge Drinking and TMT: Evaluating Responses to Anti-Binge Drinking PSAs from a Terror Management Theory Perspective

Norman C. H. Wong, Stephanie Schartel Dunn


An experiment was conducted with 264 college students whose self-esteem were highly linked or not to their binge drinking behaviors (i.e., high binge drinking-based self esteem or low binge drinking-based self-esteem). Participants were exposed to a mortality-salient/non-mortality-salient anti-binge drinking public service announcement (PSA), or a control ad.  Cognitive and emotional responses to the ads were assessed. Results found an interaction between binge drinking-based self-esteem and mortality-saliency of the ad. Those with high binge drinking-based self-esteem reported significantly lower intentions to not binge drink, more negative evaluation of the ads, greater message avoidance, and more positive binge drinking attitudes in response to the mortality-salient PSAs compared to those exposed to non-mortality-salient PSAs, and those with low binge drinking-based self-esteem. Additionally, response costs associated with not binge drinking was tested within the EPPM framework and found to have an impact. Implications of the results for anti-binge drinking campaigns are discussed along with future research directions.

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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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