Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Psychology

Supervisor

Dr. Leora Swartzman

Abstract

University binge drinking is a concern. Traditionally, social norms marketing campaigns have been employed. Regulatory focus theory – based on the premise that behavior is driven either by the motivation to maximize gains (promotion) or to minimize losses (prevention) – offers an alternative approach to crafting persuasive appeals in this population. This study investigated the effectiveness of gain-framed versus loss-framed advertisements in lowering drinking intentions in a university sample. It further explored whether the effects were moderated by regulatory focus – primed and dispositional – and trait reactance. Online surveys were completed by 208 Introductory Psychology students (51.7% female, mean age = 19.0 [SD =1.78]). Message framing did not interact with regulatory focus to create regulatory fit. However, those high in promotion focus and females were more responsive to the ads, particularly the loss-framed ones, whereas those high in reactance were less responsive to the ads. Implications for tailoring anti-binge drinking ads are discussed.

Keywords: alcohol, message framing, reactance, regulatory focus, university