Teens’ Reactance to Anti-Smoking Public Service Announcements: How Norms Set the Stage

Nancy Rhodes, Rachel Ralston, Elisabeth Bigsby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Data from a study of the effects of anti-smoking ads were analyzed. This study measured the accessibility of peer and parent norms for smoking, exposed teens to three anti-smoking ads that either emphasized personal narratives of the dangers of smoking or had a surprise ending, and measured reactance to the messages. Readiness to smoke was assessed via a phone survey 3 months later. The accessibility of pro-smoking peer norms increased readiness to engage in smoking behavior through reactance toward anti-smoking messages. The accessibility of parent norms was unrelated to reactance. Reactance was particularly strong when the ads included a surprise ending. Peer norms that oppose smoking, particularly if they can be brought to mind quickly, are an important protective factor in that they may reduce reactance to anti-smoking messages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-582
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 3 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences


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