Traditionally, campaign effects have been modeled as a result of individuals'
direct exposure to campaign messages. A person's indirect exposure to messages
through interpersonal conversation about a campaign, however, can be another way
that campaign effects occur. Based on the notion of social diffusion of campaign
effects, this dissertation research examined the role of campaign conversation in the
generation and diffusion of campaign effects. More specifically, this dissertation
research tested whether anti-smoking campaign-generated conversation affected
individuals’ smoking-related perceptions using the TruthSM campaign data (Study 1)
and experiment data (Study 2).
Study 1 tested whether campaign conversation, along with individual
exposure, can mediate the impact of the TruthSM campaign using secondary analyses
of the Legacy Media Tracking Survey (LMTS) data. LMTS is a random digit
dialing telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of youth (LMTS II: n
=10,357; LMTS III: n = 10,079). Multilevel modeling results of LMTS II data
show that both encoded exposure and campaign conversation mediated the
relationship between TruthSM campaign availability and smoking beliefs, although
the mediating roles of encoded exposure and campaign conversation were not found
in LMTS III. The results of LMTS II data also show that campaign conversation
widened the difference in smoking beliefs between non-smokers and hardcore
smokers, indicating a possibility that campaign conversation can function as a
Based on the concern of potential backlash effects of conversation among
smokers, Study 2 tested whether a smoker’s campaign conversation with another
smoker can produce elevated pro-smoking normative perceptions and behavioral
intentions using a laboratory experiment (n =72). Results show that smokers’
conversation generated boomerang effects. Although campaign conversation did
not affect participants’ injunctive norms, personal descriptive norms, or behavioral
intention, it led to elevated pro-smoking societal descriptive norms (i.e., higher
smoking prevalence estimates) among participants who had a low number of smoker
Altogether, this dissertation research provides general support for the social
diffusion process of campaign effects and the important role of campaign
conversation in this process. It shows that campaign-generated conversation can
generate, amplify, and, sometimes, reduce campaign effects. Theoretical and
practical implications for campaign planning and evaluation are discussed.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2009. Major: Mass Communication. Advisor: Brian G. Southwell. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 130 pages, appendices A-B. Ill. (some col.)
Social diffusion of campaign effects: campaign-generated interpersonal communication as a polarizing mediator of anti-tobacco campaign effects..
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