Effects of Advertising on Product Risk Perception and Warning Effectiveness

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Title: Effects of Advertising on Product Risk Perception and Warning Effectiveness
Author: Conzola, Vincent Charles
Advisors: Carolyn M. Sommerich, PhD, Committee Member
Katherine W. Klein, PhD, Committee Member
Sharolyn A. Converse-Lane, PhD, Committee Member
Michael S. Wogalter, PhD, Committee Chair
Abstract: Among the most consistent findings in the warnings literature is the so-called 'familiarity effect.' Research has shown that the more familiar an individual is with a product or situation the less likely he or she is to notice, read, recall, or comply with hazard communications. The effect has been found across numerous product types and situations using various operational definitions of familiarity and measures of warning effectiveness. However, research has also shown that subjective familiarity ratings are not highly correlated with actual product experience. Thus, individuals must be capable of developing a false or exaggerated sense of familiarity. One possible source of this exaggerated familiarity is exposure to product advertising. Three experiments were conducted to investigate whether the familiarity effect can be produced from exposure to product advertising. The relationships between advertising exposure and perceived familiarity and between perceived familiarity, perceived safety and warning effectiveness were examined. Experiment 1 explored participants' attitudes and beliefs about well-known and obscure brands of household, consumer products and sought to determine how past, direct product experience influences those attitudes and beliefs. Experiments 2 and 3 examined how the number of advertising exposures and the safety-related content of advertisements influence attitudes and beliefs about the advertised products and the effectiveness of on product warnings. Results of Experiment 1 revealed that past experience can not fully explain consumers' attitudes and beliefs about household, consumer products. Experiments 2 and 3 showed that advertising influences perceived product familiarity and knowledge. While there was a trend of greater perceived safety with increased ad exposures, the effect was not significant. No effects of advertising on warning recall were found. Implications for the design of product advertisements and product packaging as well as directions for future research are discussed.
Date: 2003-11-18
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Psychology
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/3803

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