361 Emotional Pictures & Smoking

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Research by Peters, E., Shoots-Reinhard, B., Evans, A. T., Shoben, A., Klein, E. G., Tompkins, M. K., Romer, D. & Tusler, M. (2018).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S.

Can warning labels increase people’s intention to quit smoking and longer memory of smoking risks?

Psychologists studied whether certain warning labels posted on cigarette packages increase the perception of risk and have longer term memory of the risks. The researchers assessed if high-emotion pictorial labels (like a person with a cigarette has smoke coming out of his stoma or breathing hole in his neck to his trachea) would be remembered more than a low-emotion pictorial label (a smoker holding a burning cigarette covering their mouth while coughing) or a text-only label. Lastly, they assessed the label’s impact on quitting intentions.

They showed 1,900 teen and adult smoker participants nine warning labels on four occasions and asked them to rate their emotions. Researchers recorded memory of the warning label, risk perception and intentions of quitting immediately and, again six weeks later.

Results indicated that high-emotion warning labels (as judged by participants) and text only had longer term recall.  There was greater recall when individuals had a higher perception of risk and greater intentions to quit. 

So, lets inform the public of negative consequences of smoking. Use highly-emotional warnings about the facts that would be ‘perception changing.’

Reference:

Peters, E., Shoots-Reinhard, B., Evans, A. T., Shoben, A., Klein, E. G., Tompkins, M. K., Romer, D. & Tusler, M. (2018). Pictorial warning labels and memory for cigarette health-risk information over time.

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About Author

Adele Hall is the administrative assistant for the School of Psychology in charge of uploading the Psychology Science minutes. The authors of the minutes are listed in the written portion. The Psychology Science Minutes are coordinated by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D., faculty emerita, and reviewed by former Dean Mary Beth Kenkel, faculty emerita.

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