More on the Montana Meth Project

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Tom Jacobs at Miller-McCune weighs in on the Montana Meth Project controversy:

Last month, Miller-McCune reported on a new study that found anti-tobacco ads that combine fear and disgust are apparently counterproductive. Now, research by psychologist David Erceg-Hurn of the University of Western Australia suggests the same may be true for anti-drug spots.

What did the earlier study about tobacco find? Advertisements based on generated fear and feelings of disgust can backfire:

“When fear and disgust are combined in a single television ad, the ad might become too noxious for the viewer,” said lead author Glenn Leshner, co-director of the Psychological Research on Information and Media Effects Lab at the Missouri School of Journalism. He and co-author Paul Bolls said they hope this insight will help in designing more effective anti-smoking messages.

“We noticed several ads in our collection of anti-tobacco public service announcements that contained very disturbing images, such as cholesterol being squeezed from a human artery, a diseased lung or a cancer-riddled tongue,” Leshner said. “Presumably, these messages are designed to scare people so that they don’t smoke. It appears this strategy may backfire.”

I know these are just academic studies conducted by people without a vested interest in the outcome, but is it too much to ask that reporting in Montana about the Montana Meth Project consider them?

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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