The Effects of Message Framing, Theory of Reactance, and Ego-Depeltion on the Efficacy of a Drinking Reduction Campaign



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This dissertation focuses on message framing with the goal of designing effective advertisements that advocate healthy drinking styles. Rooted in persuasion models, message framing by gain or loss frame may directly convince people or indirectly prime subconsciousness. Two studies were conducted. Ego-depletion was considered with framed message in the first study, and the theory of reactance was utilized to predict the communication outcome in the second study, which also considered the roles of self-esteem, instability of self-esteem, and self-relevance. Reduction of future drinking intentions was the goal of message delivery. Both studies recruited students who were regular drinkers, mostly females to complete online surveys, with random assignment to ego-depletion or waiting conditions (Study 1) and messages to evaluate (Study 1 & 2). Several regression models were tested with a unique measure of regular drinking in each equation. Ego-depletion among heavier drinkers was positively associated with ratings of health messages, which provided partial support for hypotheses of Study 1. Reactance to follow coercive health advice was supported indirectly by higher drinking intention. Higher self-esteem and unstable self-esteem were positively related to message acceptance, which was counter to expectations. Self-relevance with drinking was found to moderate the effects of message framing on drinking intention. This was interpreted as an indirect indication of reactance. Overall, findings were somewhat supportive of hypotheses and provide a unique contribution to understanding of message framing and alcohol communications. Limitations and future directions are summarized.



Message Framing, Ego-depletion, Reactance, Drinking, Alcohol, Gain frame, Loss frame, Communications