Effects of varying degrees of tobacco restrictions and messgage framing on college students' psychological reactance and attitudes toward tobacco-free campus policies
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] Although the overall population of tobacco users in the United States is declining, tobacco use among college students is increasing. In response, university and college campuses nationwide are creating and adopting smoke-free ordinances with varying degrees of smoking restrictions allowed on college campuses, and these restrictions can be framed in terms of gains or losses, leaving questions about the effects such restrictions have on students' psychological reactance and attitudes toward the smoking policies. The aim of this study is to examine the influence of varying degrees of campus tobacco restrictions and gain- versus loss-framed messages that relate to 100% tobacco-free college ordinance on college students' psychological reactance, attitudes to comply with smoke-free campus ordinance. Perhaps most importantly, this study examines an often overlooked group of smokers, i.e., intermittent college tobacco users, who may respond differently to messaging aimed at restricting smoking on college campuses to protect non-smokers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. Factorial experiments were conducted with two sub-studies online and results of study one showed that for non-tobacco users, low tobacco restrictions yielded the highest reactance effect. For tobacco college users, moderate restrictions had the lowest reactance effect. For study two, loss-framed anti-tobacco messages generated higher psychological reactance than gain-framed message whether students were tobacco or non-tobacco users. Theoretical contributions to existing psychological reactance theory and message framing literatures, as well as practical implications, are discussed based on the findings from the study.
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