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?