Although alcohol over-consumption is a serious health and safety issue, college
students mock anti-binge drinking campaigns, dismiss the threats, and declare heavy
drinking a major aspect of the college experience. In light of recent theorizing, this paper
implicates conversation as a primary mechanism influencing the success or failure of
health campaigns, particularly those embedded within college environments. Two
research designs help test conditions that facilitate the spread of negative campaign
commentary, how such commentary influences message evaluation, and pinpoints
relevant sub-groups likely to play a role in the process. Using a between-subjects postonly
experimental design, the first study explores how exposure to positive versus
negative (or no) social commentary located on a blog influences peers’ message
evaluations and campaign reactions. The second study uses a post-campaign field
evaluation to examine individual differences in the amount and type of campaign
commentary, and the aggregate effects of peer discussions on message acceptance.
Results indicated students have favorable evaluations of the campaign, and a majority
talked about the campaign with friends. Both studies support the reciprocal causation of inner dispositions and social situations on influencing the type (supportive or derisive)
and frequency of campaign discussions. Individual differences in self-monitoring and
sensation seeking are discussed as important considerations when examining the social
diffusion of campaign influence. Theoretical and practical implications for the design and
evaluation of anti-binge drinking campaigns are discussed.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis June 2011. Major: Mass Communication. Advisor: Brian G. Southwell. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 75 pages, appendices A-D.
Gross, Michelle Lynn.
How social media amplify campaign message evaluation: peer reaction and binge drinking prevention..
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