Cue the disgust: the effect of smoking cues and disgusting images in anti-tobacco advertisements on smokers' and nicotine-withdrawn smokers' psychophysiological responses, smoking urges, and intent to quit smoking
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] This study examined how non-withdrawn tobacco smokers and nicotine-withdrawn tobacco smokers cognitively and emotionally process anti-tobacco advertisements that vary in presence/absence of smoking cues and high/low ratings of disgust. A 2 (smoking cues) x 2 (disgust) x 2 (smoking condition) mixed-model repeated-measures experiment was conducted. Participans (N = 100 adult smokers) viewed 12 30-second anti-tobacco television advertisements in one of four random orders while psychophysiological responses were recorded. Results from this study indicated that the combination of appetitive stimuli (smoking cues) with aversive stimuli (disgust images) in a single anti-tobacco message (smoking cue/high disgust message) created cognitive dissonance for both non-withdrawn smokers and nicotine-withdrawn smokers between urges to smoke and intentions to quit. To reduce cognitive dissonance, both non-withdrawn smokers and nicotine-withdrawn smokers defensively withdrew cognitive resources from encoding messages as evidenced by cardiac acceleration and decreased recognition memory of message content. Nicotine-withdrawn smokers did not substantially cognitively and emotionally process anti-tobacco messages differently from non-withdrawn smokers. However, the results from this study suggest that when the goals of an anti-tobacco campaign are to enhance encoding of message content into memory, reduce smoking urges, and increase intentions to quit, the combination of smoking cues with highly disgusting images is likely a faulty strategy. Rather, messages should contain only a disgust-based appeal when attempting to persuade smokers or nicotine-withdrawn smokers to quit smoking.