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The Effect of Alcohol Advertising on Immediate Alcohol Consumption in College Students: An Experimental Study


Reprint requests: Renske Koordeman, MA, PhD Student, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands; Tel.: +31 24 361 1818; Fax: +31 24 361 2776; E-mail:


Background:  Survey studies have emphasized a positive association between exposure to alcohol advertising on television (TV) and the onset and continuation of drinking among young people. Alcohol advertising might also directly influence viewers’ consumption of alcohol while watching TV. The present study therefore tested the immediate effects of alcohol advertisements on the alcohol consumption of young adults while watching a movie. Weekly drinking, problem drinking, positive and arousal expectancies of alcohol, ad recall, attitude, and skepticism toward the ads were tested as moderators.

Methods:  An experimental design comparing 2 advertisement conditions (alcohol ads vs. nonalcohol ads) was used. A total of 80 men, young adult friendly dyads (ages 18 to 29) participated. The study examined actual alcohol consumption while watching a 1-hour movie with 3 advertising breaks. A multivariate regression analysis was used to examine the effects of advertisement condition on alcohol consumption.

Results:  Assignment to the alcohol advertisement condition did not increase alcohol consumption. In addition, no moderating effects between advertisement condition and the individual factors on alcohol consumption were found.

Conclusions:  Viewing alcohol advertising did not lead to higher alcohol consumption in young men while watching a movie. However, replications of this study using other samples (e.g., different countries and cultures), other settings (e.g., movie theater, home), and with other designs (e.g., different movies and alcohol ads, cumulative exposure, extended exposure effects) are warranted.

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