Anti-Tobacco Video Advertisement Analysis

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Although the amount of smokers has consistently decreased in recent years (Agaku, King, & Dube, 2014), smoking remains a significant and complex health issue in the United States. Both government and non-governmental agencies have invested significant resources in various media campaigns addressing the risks of tobacco use, with mixed results. Many campaigns appear to have been designed without the benefit of scientific insight into how individuals mentally process and respond to media. The ideas posited here are designed to contribute insight into how producers can meet the challenge of producing effective health messages by examining the effect that narrative style has on smokers’ responses to highly aversive anti-tobacco video advertisements.…show more content…
In addition to graphic imagery, many anti-tobacco campaigns contain smoking cues, such as images of lit cigarettes, as well. On the surface, this combination appears as though it would effectively influence audiences and curb smoking using fear tactics and conditioning. While these ads may be effective at preventing people from beginning to smoke, according to Clayton, Leshner, Bolls, and Thorson (2009), this attempt at conditioning smokers to associate smoking with graphic imagery is ineffective and can even backfire and push individuals to react defensively and go smoke. Although some level of negativity is required to incite behavior change in anti-tobacco content (Clayton, Leshner, Bolls, and Thorson, 2009), examining how individuals process mediated content can provide insight into how negative intensity can be effectively presented.
The Limited Capacity Model of Motivated Mediated Message Processing (LC4MP) uses cognitive and motivational mechanisms to understand the effect on the human cognitive response to mediated messages and the human information processing system. This model seeks to reveal the underlying mechanisms of message processing that can be used to understand what people attend to and take away from a message, compared to theories regarding the effects of information processing
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(2001) evaluates these motivational systems as they relate to picture processing. One theory involved in their research, the defense cascade model, suggests that arousing stimuli cause electrodermal, startle and cardiac changes because of defensive activation. This model proposes three stages of defensive activation: pre-encounter, post-encounter and overt action. Picture processing corresponds to the post-encounter stage, in which the body is decoding information and preparing for a fight or flight response (Bradley et al., 2001). In summary, when the defensive or aversive system is
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