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Are Deterrent Pictures Effective? The Impact of Warning Labels on Cognitive Dissonance in Smokers


* Sabine Glock, University of Saarland—Psychology, P.O. Box 151150, Saarbrücken 66041, Germany. Email:


An experiment was conducted to investigate the impact of cigarette warning labels on cognitive dissonance in smokers. Smokers' and non-smokers' risk perceptions with regard to smoking-related diseases were measured with ratings as well as with response latencies before and after presentation of warning labels. Results indicated an influence of warning labels on smokers' ratings, revealing cognitive dissonance reducing strategies after confrontation with warning labels. Response latencies showed an impact of confrontation with smoking-related health risks rather than an impact of warning labels. Findings are discussed in terms of cognitive dissonance theory.