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Changing Outcome Expectancies, Drinking Intentions, and Implicit Attitudes toward Alcohol: A Comparison of Positive Expectancy-Related and Health-Related Alcohol Warning Labels

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Abstract

Background: Although alcohol consumption is a leading risk factor for major illnesses, warning labels are still not being used. Alcohol consumption is related to positive and negative outcome expectancies, which both play a crucial role. This study compared the effectiveness of warning labels that contradicted positive outcome expectancies with health-related warning labels among a college-aged German sample (N = 40). Method: Half of the participants received health-related warning labels while half received positive-related warning labels. Implicit attitudes were assessed before and after warning-label exposure. Explicit attitudes and outcome expectancies were assessed after exposure. Participants’ usual drinking behavior was assessed before exposure to warning labels, and their drinking intentions were measured afterwards. Results: Participants exposed to positive-related warning labels had marginally more negative implicit attitudes compared to their own prior attitudes. They tended to perceive lower social and higher negative outcome expectancies than the health-related warning labels group. Importantly, the positive-related warning labels group's drinking intentions tended to be lower than those of the health-related warning labels group. Conclusions: This first test of warning labels that contradict positive alcohol outcome expectancies provided promising results; thus warning labels could be considered as means to influence college-aged people.

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