The more exposure middle school students have to anti-smoking ads, the more likely they are to smoke, according to a new University of Georgia study.
…many anti-smoking ad campaigns have the opposite effect on teenagers, backfiring because they actually encourage the rebellious nature of youth.
…the data showed middle school students are more like to be influenced by the perception of what their friends are doing, and that anti-smoking campaigns should be more focused on peer relations.
Here we have the problem defined (anti-smoking ads don’t work well), the reason spelled out (authoritarian messages invoke contrarian behavior), and the solution laid out (peer messaging), we need to pay attention to that and use it.
Obviously this also holds for so many other problems/issues and it is not the first study to “discover” this triad. Underage drinking is just that sort of issue that jumps to mind (certainly in part because it has been large in the local media lately). We need to institute “social marketing” techniques to let teens know that many of their peers don’t drink and set-up peer education as a good chunk of our campaign against underage drinking (or seatbelt use or licit and illicit drug use, etc.)