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Subject: AEJ 05 HivelyM MCS Effects of Positive vs. Negative Self-Efficacy Statements in Humorous Anti-Alcohol Abuse Ads
From: Elliott Parker <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:AEJMC Conference Papers <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 6 Feb 2006 06:40:40 -0500
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This paper was presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and
Mass Communication in San Antonio, Texas August 2005.
         If you have questions about this paper, please contact the author
directly. If you have questions about the archives, email
rakyat [ at ] eparker.org. For an explanation of the subject line, 
send email to
[log in to unmask] with just the four words, "get help info aejmc," in the
body (drop the "").

(Feb 2006)
Thank you.
Elliott Parker
====================================================================

Effects of Positive vs. Negative Self-Efficacy Statements in Humorous 
Anti-Alcohol Abuse Ads


By
Myiah Hutchens Hively, MA Student, Washington State University
Moon J. Lee, Assistant Professor, Washington State University
Yi-Chun "Yvonnes" Chen, Doctoral Student, Washington State University

Edward R. Murrow School of Communication
Washington State University
PO Box 642520
Pullman, WA 99164
(509) 432-1540
[log in to unmask]


Running head: Self-Efficacy Statements Within Anti-Alcohol Abuse Messages

Abstract
This study investigated the effects of self-efficacy statements in 
different types (positive vs. negative) of taglines in humorous 
anti-alcohol abuse advertisements based on individuals' sensation 
seeking tendency. An experiment was conducted with 114 college 
students. Results indicate that positively reinforced messages 
consistently demonstrated better results than the negatively 
reinforced advertisements; however, results were mixed for the 
effects of self-efficacy statements. Implications, limitations and 
directions for future research are discussed.

College students' heavy drinking problems have been identified as 
one of the serious health hazards (Wechsler, Dowdall, Maener, 
Gledhill-Hoyt, & Lee, 1998), concerning many parents, educators, 
health campaign practitioners and government officials (Lee & 
Bichard, in press; Lee & Chen, 2004). In fact, according to a study 
done by the Washington State Department of Health in 2002, 18 to 24 
years old are the most likely age group to abuse alcohol.  One study 
estimates that approximately 40 percent of college students have more 
than 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in a single sitting 
(Wechsler, et al., 1998).
There have been multiple research efforts to tackle this problem 
(Skuttle, 1999; Dorsey, Miller & Scherer, 1999; Oei & Burrow, 2000, 
Hasking & Oei, 2002; Blume, Schmaling & Marlatt, 2003).  However, 
finding effective ways to persuade this group, especially those who 
are at risk, to change their risky behaviors has turned out to be a 
major challenge.
Previous studies have investigated how to effectively target messages 
to at-risk individuals (Lee & Ferguson, 2002; Lee et al., 2002; Lee, 
2003; Lee et al., 2004; Lee & Hively, unpublished). However, although 
several types of messages were identified as promising for targeting 
at-risk individuals, the effort to identify effective messages to 
achieve the desired results – i.e. an increased intention to modify 
their drinking behaviors– has only recently shown promise.
Lee et al. (2002) found that high risk-takers responded better to 
humorous messages than messages that utilized fear appeals in 
anti-tobacco advertisements.  A follow up study (Lee, 2003) again 
found similar results in anti-alcohol abuse messages.  However, one 
of the major challenges for campaign designers is to design messages 
to reach desired outcomes (i.e. increasing intention to change 
behavior) and at the same time reduce a possibility of setting off a 
target audience member's defensive reactions.
	Research has shown that individuals' self-efficacy, self-beliefs 
about their ability to control their own behaviors (Bandura, 1994), 
is negatively correlated with drinking problems (Blume, Schmaling & 
Marlatt, 2003; Oei & Morawska, 2004; Skuttle, 1999).  Furthermore, 
increasing self-efficacy in alcohol treatment facilities has shown to 
be successful in reducing drinking problems (Hasking & Oei, 
2002).  Based on the review of self-efficacy literature, it was 
suspected that messages containing self-efficacy statements may 
provide a new way to target this group, particularly individuals at 
risk. Lee and Hively's (unpublished) study followed an experiment 
conducted by Lee and Chen (2004) which examined the effects of 
positive and negative reinforcements within anti-substance abuse ads 
and determined that heavy drinkers indicated higher levels of 
interest in the negatively reinforced ads, but higher risk 
perceptions in the positively reinforced condition.
	Therefore, in this study, the effects of self-efficacy statements 
were further investigated within the context of positive and negative 
reinforcements (e.g. taglines) in humorous anti-alcohol abuse 
ads.  In addition, individuals' sensation seeking tendency, their 
tendency to seek novel stimuli (Zuckerman, 1994), was considered in 
terms of their reactions to different types of reinforcements (e.g. 
taglines) in the ads. An experiment was conducted with 114 college 
students.  It was suspected that sensation seekers would respond to 
positively reinforced messages (particularly with self-efficacy 
statements) better than negatively reinforced messages.

Drinking and Sensation Seeking
	If message designers hope to effectively target messages to high 
risk individuals, designers need to understand how risk-taker's 
decision-making processes work. Researchers have concluded that 
individuals' risk-taking tendencies in addition to their sensation 
seeking tendencies help to create a clearer picture of how they make 
decisions (Ferguson et al., 1991; Lee et al., 2002; Moore & Gullone, 
1996; Zuckerman, 1979).
The notion of the sensation-seeking tendencies was first introduced 
by Zuckerman in 1964. Zuckerman defined sensation seeking as a 
personality trait and the focus of sensation seeking is on individual 
differences in terms of optimal levels of arousal or stimulation 
(Zuckerman, 1994; Zuckerman, 1979; Zuckerman, Kolin, Price, & Zoob, 
1964). Throughout recent revisions, he defined sensation seeking as a 
"trait defined by the seeking of varied, novel, complex, and intense 
situations and experiences, and the willingness to take physical, 
social and financial risks for the sake of such experience" 
(Zuckerman, 1994, p.27). Sensation seekers, in comparison with 
non-sensation seekers, are more attracted to novel and intense 
activities, including engaging in risky behaviors (Zuckerman, 1994, 
pp. 154-155).
The concept of sensation seeking has been widely applied to studies 
in relation to positive risky behaviors such as climbing, kayaking 
and scuba diving (e.g., Zuckerman 1983c; Rowland, Franken, & 
Harrison, 1986), and negative risky behaviors such as substance use 
and addictive behaviors (e.g., Hansen & Breivik, 2001; Zuckerman, 
1994). Among these behavior studies, sensation seeking has 
consistently shown a high correlation with risk-taking behaviors 
(Hansen et al., 2001; Zuckerman, 1979, 1994). Zuckerman has further 
reiterated that high sensation seekers are more likely to engage in 
substance abuse than low sensation seekers and that sensation-seeking 
tendencies are highly correlated with smoking, drinking, sexual 
behavior and drug use (1979).
Zuckerman refined his sensation seeking scale through creating four 
factors; Boredom Susceptibility, Adventure Seeking, Experience 
Seeking, and Disinhibition. It has been found that two of the factors 
tend to predict risky behaviors more than the others; Experience 
Seeking and Disinhibition. In particular, Disinhibition has shown to 
be the sub-scale with the highest correlation to risk-taking 
behaviors (Zuckerman, 1994; Pedersen, Clausen, & Lavil, 1988; 
Schwarz, Burkhart, & Green, 1978).
Effective Message Design: Humor Appeals
	Researchers suggested that effective health campaign efforts should 
target specific audiences in terms of their individual 
characteristics (Austin & Meili, 1994; Lee et al., 2002). One such 
characteristic is an individual's risk-taking tendencies. Risk-taking 
tendencies have been examined by some researchers as the behavioral 
counterpart to sensation seeking (Lee et al, 2002). Studies have 
shown that adolescents have higher risk-taking tendencies than those 
in younger or older age groups (Ferguson et al., 1991; Lee et al., 2002)
	An approach that has received some support for effectively targeting 
risk-takers is using humorous appeals as opposed to fear appeals. 
Humor appeals have been defined as messages which use humor to gain 
attention and portray light consequences in order to deter risky 
behavior (Lee et al., 2004; Lee & Hively, unpublished); whereas fear 
appeals are defined as persuasive messages which emphasize the 
harmful physical or social consequences of failing to comply with the 
messages' recommendations, and are commonly used in health 
communication PSAs (Hale & Dillard, 1995).
	Traditionally, humor appeals are more frequently used in promotional 
messages such as alcohol advertisements rather than in health 
campaign messages (Monahan, 1995). Humor is found to be effective in 
drawing attention (Madden & Weinberg, 1984; Monahan, 1995; Weinberger 
& Gulas, 1992), and gaining attention is often cited as the first 
step in many behavior changing theories (Austin et al., 1994; 
Bandura, 2002).
A consensus on how effective humor is as a persuasive tool can not be 
found. Although there is some evidence that humor enhances persuasion 
(Batra & Ray, 1986; Lee et al, 2002; Lee, 2003; Weinberger et al., 
1992), the effects of humor appeals do not seem to last long since 
humor tends to elicit heuristic information processing rather than 
thoughtful and elaborated information processing (Monahan, 1995). 
However, some researchers have posited that this heuristic 
information processing of humor appeals can be a benefit not a boone 
because it reduces the threatening feelings presented in the messages 
and can potentially lead to further information processing (Monahan, 
1995; Conway & Dube, 2002). Conway and Dube (2002) determined that 
humor was an effective way to foster behavior change when dealing 
with threatening topics. Humor appeals, therefore, can provide a way 
to reduce a target audience's defensive mechanisms and enhance their 
susceptibility of a recommended action in health communication 
messages, which is especially necessary when targeting high-risk 
individuals (Monahan, 1995; Lee et al., 2002).
Recent research determined that risk-takers tend to react negatively 
to fear appeals, which have been commonly used in anti-substance 
abuse messages (Lee et al., 2002).  In fact, high risk-takers exposed 
to fear appeal messages often indicate lower intentions to change 
their risky behaviors if exposed to fear appeals messages (Lee et 
al., 2002); however, when humor was used to relay the message, the 
negative correlation between individuals' rebellious tendencies and 
their intentions to change their behaviors was not present. Lee et 
al., (2002) speculated that messages which use fear leads to 
defensive reactions, which hinders further acceptance of a 
recommended action.  They concluded that message designers need to 
tailor their messages to target this particular public in a manner 
that diminishes their defensive reactions by looking at how to 
minimize possible defensive reactions to the given messages.
Positive and Negative Reinforcements	
	Lee (2003) found that heavy drinkers who watched the humor ads 
reported higher levels of intention to change their drinking 
behaviors than those who watched the fear ads as well as those who 
were in the control group. A subsequent study examined if heavy 
drinkers would react more positively to humor messages that were 
reinforced with positive or negative slogans (Lee et al., 2004). 
Recent research has shown that individuals tend to remember messages 
with positive statements more than messages with negative statements 
(Butler & Berry, 2002). In addition, McGuire (1999) concluded that 
positive messages lead to greater recall.
	Positive reinforcement was classified as messages that contained 
positive verbs such as do, can or be; and negative reinforcement was 
classified as messages that contained negative verbs such as don't or 
can't. Lee et al., (2004) determined that heavy drinkers had higher 
perceptions of the risk associated with alcohol abuse and felt the 
messages had a higher perceived risk of excessive drinking portrayed 
in the messages that utilized positive reinforcement. However, heavy 
drinkers demonstrated a lower level of interest in the advertisements 
that were positively reinforced and their intent to change their 
drinking behavior was not influenced by either type of reinforcement; 
therefore, it appears that humorous, positively reinforced messages 
tend to be most beneficial for high risk-takers.
Self-Efficacy and Drinking Behavior	
	Albert Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory, which includes the concept 
of self-efficacy, has been widely applied in health research as well 
as clinical practices. Research has consistently shown that an 
individuals' self-efficacy can have a direct impact on their drinking 
behavior (Dorsey, Miller & Scherer, 1999; Blume, Schmaling & Marlatt, 
2003). Bandura (1994) defines self-efficacy as "people's beliefs 
about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance 
that exercise influence over events that affect their lives" (p. 71).
Many behavior-changing theories utilized in health communication rely 
on self-efficacy as a crucial element that should be included in the 
health message (Fishbein & Yzer, 2003; Witte & Allen, 2000). Fishbein 
and Yzer (2003) propose that combining Janz & Becker's (1984) Health 
Belief Model, Bandura's (1997) Social Cognitive Theory and Fishbein & 
Ajzen's (1975) Theory of Reasoned Action leads to the three critical 
determinates of behavior change; attitudes towards the behavior, 
norms surrounding the behavior, and self-efficacy.
     	According to Bandura's theory, self-efficacy can have an effect 
on multiple dimensions of peoples' lives including their health. 
Bandura (1995, 1997) posits that perceived self-efficacy is an 
important determinant of people's beliefs in their ability to cope 
with and their execution of direct control over health-impairing 
habits such as cigarette smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, and 
sexually transmitted diseases.
Many health researchers have used Bandura's concept to help explain 
problematic drinking behaviors and how to treat them using clinical, 
college, and community samples (Oei & Morawsak 2004; Blume, Schmaling 
& Marlatt 2003; Hasking & Oei 2002; Oei & Burrow 2000; Dorsey, Miller 
& Scherer 1999; Skuttle 1999; Annis & Davis 1988).
	Skuttle (1999) discovered that self-efficacy scores were negatively 
correlated with perceived benefits from drinking and amounts of abuse 
within a sample obtained from an all-male treatment facility.  In 
other words, the lower self-efficacy scores individuals had, the 
higher perceived benefits from drinking as well as the higher amounts 
of abuse they exhibited.  Similar results can also be observed when 
utilizing college students as the experimental sample (Dorsey, Miller 
& Scherer, 1999; Blume, Schmaling & Marlatt, 2003).  It was 
discovered that the students' self-efficacy had a strong effect on 
their drinking behaviors, and those with high self-efficacy were less 
likely to engage in binge-drinking.
	Oei & Burrow (2000) further examined drinking refusal self-efficacy 
to assure that drinking refusal self-efficacy was measuring 
self-efficacy regarding drinking behaviors rather than other types of 
substance abuses such as smoking or caffeine consumption. Their 
research once again indicated that self-efficacy was a critical 
factor in alcohol consumption. Of the four variables they measured; 
alcohol expectancy, smoking refusal self-efficacy, automatic thoughts 
and drinking refusal self-efficacy, only drinking refusal 
self-efficacy was significantly correlated with alcohol 
consumption.  A follow-up study (Oei & Morawsak, 2004) found that 
self-efficacy was indeed a better predictor than alcohol expectancies 
for alcohol consumption. Self-efficacy predicted both amount and 
frequency of consumption while alcohol expectancies only predicted 
whether or not they would drink at all.
Lee et al. (unpublished) examined the effects of self-efficacy within 
positively reinforced anti-alcohol abuse messages on rebellious 
individuals and obtained fairly promising results. Results indicated 
that rebellious individuals in the self-efficacy condition indicated 
lower alcohol expectancies and higher intentions to change their 
drinking behavior than individuals in the non-self-efficacy 
condition. A result that was not expected was that rebellious 
individuals in the self-efficacy condition indicated lower levels of 
drinking-refusal self-efficacy than individuals in the 
non-self-efficacy condition. The researchers propose that the 
self-efficacy statements lead individual's to further process the 
message and become more realistic about their own refusal abilities.
Hypotheses
The purpose of this study was to further investigate the effects of 
self-efficacy statements in humorous, positively and negatively 
reinforced anti-alcohol abuse messages based on individuals' 
sensation seeking tendencies.  Based on the existing literature, it 
was suspected that high sensation seekers would exhibit less 
defensive reactions to the messages with self-efficacy statements and 
greater intentions to change their drinking behaviors than to the 
messages without self-efficacy statements. It was also expected that 
high sensation seekers in the negative reinforcement condition would 
react more defensively, thereby indicating less liking and less 
intention to change their behavior than individuals in the positive 
condition with no self-efficacy component.
H1: High sensation seekers in the positive condition and the positive 
with self-efficacy condition will indicate higher levels of perceived 
humor portrayed in the ads than the negative with self-efficacy condition.
H2: High sensation seekers in the positive with self-efficacy 
condition will indicate higher risk perceptions of drinking than high 
sensation seekers in the positive condition and negative with 
self-efficacy condition while no differences are expected among low 
sensation seekers.
H3: High sensation seekers in the positive with self-efficacy 
condition will indicate higher alcohol expectancies than high 
sensation seekers in the positive condition and negative with 
self-efficacy condition.
H4: High sensation seekers in the negative with self-efficacy 
condition will indicate lower levels of liking than high sensation 
seekers in the positive condition and positive with self-efficacy condition.
H5: High sensation seekers in the positive with self-efficacy 
condition will exhibit higher levels of intention to change their 
drinking behavior than those in the positive condition and those in 
the negative with self-efficacy condition will exhibit the lowest 
levels of intention in comparison.
Method
	The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of 
self-efficacy statements within positively and negatively reinforced 
anti-substance abuse advertisements on rebellious individuals. The 
experiment utilized a 2 x 3 post-test only design. The three 
conditions were positive, positive with self-efficacy, and negative 
with self-efficacy conditions. A total of 115 college students from a 
large Northwestern university participated in the study for extra 
credit in a communication course.
Developing the Stimuli
	Six ads that had been used in a previous study (Lee et al., 
unpublished) were used. The ads had been previously coded by three 
trained coders and in analysis of Lee et al.'s (unpublished) study 
were found to have high perceived levels of humor. The six ads are 
titled "Slash," "Pit Crew," "Drink Responsibly," "Guys in the 
Desert," "You Know When to Stop,"  and "Responsibility Matters." In 
the positive condition, the ads were not altered at all from how they 
appeared on television and all included positive reinforcement, 
meaning they all included statements which utilized positive verbs 
such as "do" or "can". In the positive with self-efficacy condition a 
self-efficacy statement was added, and in the negative self-efficacy 
condition any positive statements in the voice-overs were removed and 
a negative reinforcement and self-efficacy statement were added.
Positive with Self-Efficacy Manipulation
	The messages used in the positive with self-efficacy condition were 
manipulated in include a visual self-efficacy statement. The 
statements were added onto the existing ad instead of on a separate 
screen so they would appear as realistic as possible. The statements 
used were as follows: "Only You Control the Situation," "You Can 
Break The Myth," "Drink Responsibly, You Can Change," "You Can Make a 
Better Choice," "You Can Make a Difference Too," and "You're in Charge."
"Only You Control the Situation" was used in the "You Know When to 
Stop" ad and was preceded by a graphic which read "Knowing When to 
Stop is a Good Thing." "You Can Break the Myth" was used with the 
"Guys in the Desert" ad and was preceded by a graphic which read 
"Alcohol, it's Not as Cool as You Think." "Drink Responsibly, You Can 
Change" was used with the "Drink Responsibly" ad and had no other 
writing with it. "You Can Make a Better Choice" was used with "Slash" 
and was preceded by a graphic that read "Drink Intelligently." "You 
Can Make a Difference Too" was used with the "Responsibility Matters" 
ad and was preceded by a graphic which read "We All Make a 
Difference."  "You're in Charge" was used with the "Pit Crew" ad and 
was preceded by a graphic which read "Drink Intelligently." 
Voice-overs in "Drink Responsibly," "Slash," and "Pit Crew" all 
contained additional responsible drinking messages.
Negative with Self-Efficacy Manipulation
	The same ads were used in the negative with self-efficacy condition, 
but the responsible drinking voice-overs and graphics were removed 
and self-efficacy statements and negative reinforcements were added. 
Negative reinforcement is defined as statements that contain negative 
verbs such as "don't." As with the positive with self-efficacy 
condition, the statements and reinforcements were added directly onto 
the ads so they would appear to be as realistic as possible.
	"Don't Drink – Only You Control the Situation" was used with "You 
know When to Stop" which was preceded by a graphic which read 
"Knowing When to Stop is a Good Thing." "Don't be Fooled – You Can 
Break The Myth" was used with "Guys in the Desert" which was preceded 
with a graphic which read "Alcohol, It's Not as Cool as You Think." 
"Don't Drink Too Much – You Can Change" was used with "Drink 
Responsibly" and had no other writing with it. "Don't Drink – You Can 
Make a Better Choice" was used with "Slash" and the "Drink 
Intelligently" tagline and responsible drinking voice-over was 
removed. "Don't Be That Guy – You Can Make a Difference" was used 
with "Responsibility Matters" and was preceded with a graphic that 
read "We All Make a Difference." "Don't Drink – You're in Charge" was 
used with "Pit Crew" and the "Drink Intelligently" tagline and drink 
responsibly voice-over was removed.
Experimental Procedure
Upon arrival, students were greeted and randomly assigned to one of 
the conditions.  At the beginning of the experiment, the participants 
were given a survey designed to measure their risk-taking tendencies 
(Ferguson et al, 1991; Lee et al, 2002), their general self-efficacy 
(Schwarzer & Fuchs, 1995), and drinking refusal self-efficacy (Young 
& Oei, 1996). After completing the pretest survey, the participants 
were asked to watch either the tape with the positive reinforcements 
which had not been altered, n = 39, the tape with the positive 
reinforcements and self-efficacy statements, n = 37, or the tape with 
the negative reinforcements and self-efficacy statements, n = 37.
	After watching the ads, participants were asked to answer Likert 
scale questions (on a scale of 0 to 9) regarding their drinking 
refusal self-efficacy, fear of drinking portrayed in the ads, risk 
perceptions involved with drinking, alcohol expectancies, liking of 
the ads, and intention to change their drinking behaviors.
Data Analysis
Creating the Sensation Seeking Scale
	Five items from Zuckerman's (1979) Disinhibition sub-scale of 
sensation seeking which loaded onto one factor was use to measure 
participant's sensation seeking tendencies. The items included: "I 
like people who are partiers," "Having alcohol is the key to having a 
really good party," "I am rebellious," "I like wild parties," and 
"I'm likely to do drugs when I party." The Cronbach's alpha score for 
the five items is .76, 52% of variance explained. Participants with 
sensation seeking factor scores in the top 40 percent of all 
participants were classified as high sensation seekers and 
participants in the lowest 40 percent of all participants were 
classified as low rebellious. Participants with scores in the middle 
20 percent were not used in the analysis in order to be able to 
examine the more extreme cases.
Dependant variables
	Participants were asked several Likert scale (0 to 9) questions to 
assess participants drinking refusal self-efficacy, fear perceptions, 
risk perceptions, alcohol expectancies, liking and intention to 
change their drinking behavior. A factor analysis was conducted and a 
summed factor score was used to measure each dependant variable.
Perceptions of Fear
	Five items loaded onto one factor was used to measure perceptions of 
fear in the post test survey. The items included; "These ads made me 
think a great deal about the dangers of drinking," "These ads scare 
me about the dangers of drinking," "I found myself feeling very 
frightened when I watched these ads," "Ads like these truly make me 
afraid to drink," and "These ads remind me of how risky it is  to 
drink." The Cronbach's alpha score for the five items was .79, with 
46% of variance explained.
Risk Perceptions
	Four items loaded onto one factor was used to measure perceptions of 
risk in the post test survey. The items included; ; "I consider 
myself to be at risk of becoming an alcoholic," "I drink too much," 
"I consider myself to be at risk of getting in an automobile accident 
due to my drinking," and "I consider myself to be at risk of getting 
alcohol-related injuries." The Cronbach's alpha score for the four 
items was .72 with 41% of variance explained.
Alcohol Expectancies
	Five items loaded onto one factor was used to measure alcohol 
expectancies in that post test survey. The items included; "Drinking 
helps people fit in better in social occasions," "Drinking helps 
people relax in social occasions," "Drinking makes people relaxed," 
"People who enjoy drinking are relaxed, easy-going people," and 
"Drinking makes people happy." The Cronbach's alpha score for the 
five items was .82 with 49% of variance explained.
Liking
	Five items loaded onto one factor was used to measure liking of the 
ads in the post test survey. The items included; "I like these ads 
very much," "These ads are cool," "I can relate myself to the ads," 
"The portrayals in the ads are possible," and "I had a strong 
emotional reaction to these ads." The Cronbach's alpha score for 
these items was .79 with 45% of variance explained.
Intention to Change Behavior
	Four items loaded onto one factor was used to measure intention to 
change their drinking behavior in the post test survey. The items 
included; "I drink too much," "People I care about are upset that I 
drink a lot," "My drinking behavior concerns those who care about 
me," and "I plan on changing my drinking habits very soon." The 
Cronbach's alpha score for the four items was .72 with 58% of 
variance explained.


Drinking Refusal Self-Efficacy
	Drinking refusal self-efficacy was measured in the pretest through 
five items from Young & Oei's (1996) drinking refusal self-efficacy 
scale which was slightly modified by a communication professor and 
three graduate students. The five items loaded onto one factor and 
included the items: "I can control how much I drink at a party," "I 
have control over my drinking behavior," "I can stop drinking 
whenever I want," "I can control how much I drink more than the 
average person," and "I can stop drinking even if my friends insist 
that I drink." The Cronbach's alpha score for the five items is .75, 
with 40% of variance explained.
Results
	The General linear model was used to test the hypotheses.  The 
participants' drinking refusal self-efficacy scores were 
statistically controlled through out the hypothesis testing.
H1: High sensation seekers in the positive condition and the positive 
with self-efficacy condition will indicate higher levels of perceived 
humor portrayed in the ads than the negative with self-efficacy condition.
	There was a significant condition effect, F (1, 82) = 55.07, p < 
.01, for perceived humor, regardless of their levels of sensation 
seeking tendency. Further analysis using simple t-tests confirmed 
that the participants who were in the positive condition, n = 16, M = 
.38, S.D. = -.93, as well as the positive with self-efficacy 
condition, n = 15, M = .31, S.D. = .76, exhibited higher levels of 
perceived humor than those who were in the negative with 
self-efficacy condition, n = 13, M = -.28, S.D. = .92, t (27) = 1.9, 
p < .05. Therefore, this hypothesis was supported.  In addition, it 
was found that the high sensation seekers, n = 44, M = .16, S.D. = 
.90, perceived humor more than the low sensation seekers, n = 45, M = 
-.22, S.D. =.98, F(1, 82) = 41.82, p < .01, regardless of the condition.
H2: High sensation seekers in the positive with self-efficacy 
condition will indicate higher risk perceptions of drinking than 
those high sensation seekers in the positive condition and negative 
with self-efficacy condition while no differences are expected among 
low sensation seekers.
	There was a significant condition effect, F (1, 67) = 18.43, p = .01 
for risk perceptions of drinking. A simple t-test indicated a 
significant condition effect, t (29) = 1.98, p < .05, in that high 
sensation seekers in the positive condition, n = 15, M = .71, S.D. = 
.99, indicated higher risk perceptions than high sensation seekers in 
the positive with self-efficacy condition, n= 16, M = .10, S.D.  = 
.69, which was the opposite of what was predicted. There were no 
significant t-test results between high sensation seekers in the 
positive with self-efficacy condition and the negative with 
self-efficacy condition, t (26) = -1.06, p = .15.  Simple t-test 
results indicate that there was no significant difference between low 
sensation seekers in the positive condition and the negative with 
self-efficacy condition, t (17) = .63, p = .27, or the positive with 
self-efficacy condition and the negative with self-efficacy 
condition, t (23) = -.93, p = .18, or the positive condition and the 
positive with self-efficacy condition, t (18) = 1.52, p = .07. 
Therefore this hypothesis was partially supported. Again, it was 
found that the high sensation seekers, n = 42, M = .44, S.D. = .91, 
perceived more risks of drinking than the low sensation seekers, n = 
32, M = -.30, S.D. = .63, F(1, 67) = 82.36, p < .01, regardless of 
the condition.
-- Insert Figure 1 Here --
H3: High sensation seekers in the positive with self-efficacy 
condition will indicate higher alcohol expectancies than high 
sensation seekers in the positive condition and negative with 
self-efficacy condition.
	There was no significant condition effect, F(1, 83) = .65, p = .30 
for alcohol expectancies, therefore this hypothesis was not 
supported; however there was a significant sensation seeking effect, 
F (1, 83) = 24.51, p < .05. Further analysis using simple t-tests 
revealed a significant difference between high and low sensation 
seekers, t (89) = -4.70, p < .01. Results indicate that high 
sensation seekers, n = 46, M = .44, S.D. = .75, indicated higher 
alcohol expectancies than low sensation seekers, n = 45, M = -.43, 
S.D. = 1.00.
H4: High sensation seekers in the negative with self-efficacy 
condition will indicate lower levels of liking than high sensation 
seekers in the positive condition and positive with self-efficacy condition.
	There was not a significant condition effect, F(1, 80) = 4.86, p = 
.14, for liking of the ads, therefore this hypothesis was not 
supported; however, post hoc analysis revealed a significant , p < 
.05, difference between the high sensation seekers in the positive 
with self-efficacy condition, n = 15, M = .30, S.D. = .94, and high 
sensation seekers in the negative with self-efficacy condition, n = 
13, M = -.43, S.D. = .97. No significant sensation seeking effect was 
found, F (1,80)  = .95, p = .42.
H5: High sensation seekers in the positive with self-efficacy 
condition will exhibit higher levels of intention to change their 
drinking behavior than those in the positive condition and those in 
the negative with self-efficacy condition will exhibit the lowest 
levels of intention in comparison.
	There was a significant condition effect, F (1, 67) = 15.32, p < .05 
for intention to change their drinking behavior. However it should be 
noted that a simple t-test indicated a near significant condition 
effect, t (25) = 1.41, p = .08 between high sensation seekers in the 
positive condition, n = 15, M = .61, S.D. = .99, and high sensation 
seekers in the negative with self-efficacy condition, n = 12, M = 
.03, S.D. = 1.13. T-test results between low sensation seekers in the 
positive condition, n = 7, M =.06, S.D. = .78, and the low sensation 
seekers in the positive with self-efficacy condition, n = 13, M = 
-.49, S.D. = .57, indicated significant differences, t (18) = 1.80, p 
<.05. There were also significant differences, t (17) = 2.91, p = 
.01, between low sensation seekers in the positive condition, n = 15, 
M = .61, S.D. = .99, and low sensation seekers in the negative with 
self-efficacy condition, n = 12, M = -.73, S.D. = .41. Therefore this 
hypothesis was partially supported.
--Insert Figure 2 Here --
Discussion
This study examined the effects of self-efficacy statements within 
positively and negatively reinforced humorous anti-abuse messages, 
and results show that manipulating self-efficacy statements within 
the taglines in the ads influence how individuals processes humorous 
anti-alcohol abuse messages. The most consistent result appeared to 
be the participants' preference for the positively reinforced 
messages as opposed to the negatively reinforced messages. The 
participants perceived the positively reinforced messages with or 
without the self-efficacy statements more humorous than the 
negatively reinforced messages with self-efficacy 
statements.  However, the participants who watched the positively 
reinforced self-efficacy ads perceived risk associated with drinking 
less than those who watched the negatively reinforced self-efficacy 
messages or those who watched the positively reinforced messages 
without the self-efficacy statements while liking the positively 
reinforced messages with the self-efficacy statements more than the 
negatively reinforced self-efficacy messages. In fact, the 
participants who watched the positively reinforced messages without 
the self-efficacy statements exhibited higher levels of intention to 
change their behaviors than those who watched the other two types. In 
addition, the high sensation seekers were more likely to like the ad 
messages, perceived risk associated with drinking, had higher alcohol 
expectancy, and higher intention to change behavior than the low 
sensation seekers.
The findings suggest that message designers need to focus on the use 
of positive reinforcements in humorous anti-alcohol abuse messages 
when trying to reach college students, particularly high sensation 
seekers.  This may be because sensation seekers tend to respond 
better to positive stimuli than negative stimuli in that the negative 
reinforcements such as "Don't' drink" or "Don't be stupid" may 
trigger their defensive reactions.
However, the original assumption, based on the finding from Lee & 
Hively (2004), that the self-efficacy statements in the positively 
reinforced messages would exhibit significant advantages over the 
positively reinforced messages without the self-efficacy statements 
was not supported in this study and that fact calls for further 
research in the area.
There are, however, several limitations that should be considered 
with caution. First of all, the results of this study are based only 
on short-term effects of the message manipulations in that the 
findings should not be considered as long-term effects of the media 
exposure. Therefore, a follow-up study which examines participants' 
responses after a set period of time (e.g. a week later), may provide 
useful insights in terms of possible residual effects of different 
types of reinforcements in humorous anti-alcohol abuse media messages.
Another possible limitation is related to the artificial assignment 
of participants to high and low sensation seeking tendency. Because 
this study was conducted with college students, it is difficult to 
generalize the results of this study to the general public because 
the participants were relatively categorized as high and low based on 
this sample. However, several significant findings regarding 
sensation seeking tendency address this concern and indicate that 
sensation seeking tendency is indeed a useful construct to identify 
risk-takers. However, the fact that no interaction effects were found 
in this study indicates that individuals' sensation seeking tendency 
itself is not sufficient to understand how risk-takers interpret 
messages differently in comparison with non-risk-takers.
Lee and Ferguson (2002) argued that individuals' different types of 
risk-taking behaviors should be considered when designing messages 
since different types of risk-taking tendency influence how they 
perceive different media messages.  In particular, individuals' 
rebellious risk-taking tendency, tendency to rebel against perceived 
intents or norms (Ferguson, et al., 1991), was found to be useful in 
terms of understanding this target group's psychology (Lee, et al., 
2002; Lee & Chen, 2004; Lee & Shannon, in press) and information 
processing.  Future study in this avenue may present fruitful 
insights on how to design messages effectively targeting highly 
rebellious risk-takers.
	In conclusion, positive reinforcements (in taglines) in humorous 
anti-alcohol abuse ads appear to be more effective in convincing 
sensation seekers to think of their risk-taking behaviors and 
increase the susceptibility of recommended actions in media messages 
than negative reinforcements.  However, efforts to identify effective 
ways to design messages targeting this audience should continue. Such 
efforts will lead us to more effective ways to communicate with young 
adults, particularly for the promotion of a healthier lifestyle.
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Figure 1
Risk perceptions by condition and sensation seeking



Figure 2
Intention to change behavior by condition and sensation seeking

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