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Health Commun. 2012;27(3):302-9. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2011.585450. Epub 2011 Sep 27.

Increasing the effectiveness of messages promoting responsible undergraduate drinking: tailoring to personality and matching to context.

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  • 1Office of Educational Innovation and Evaluation, College of Education, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-3202, USA.


This study addressed the serious problem of college student binge drinking by identifying factors that improve the effectiveness of messages encouraging responsible drinking presented through a website simulation. We tested schema matching (i.e., whether the message matches the person's self-schema type or not) and two types of context matching (i.e., whether the message matches the topic or values of the message context) to determine their relative influence on the effectiveness of the message. We expected that messages matched to any of these factors would be more effective than messages not matched. Schema matching reduced intentions to drink while staying in/home, but topic matching reduced intentions to drink when going out, suggesting that different factors are important for messages targeting drinking behavior in different locations. Significant interactions between topic matching and value matching on message evaluation variables indicated that the message should not match the message context too closely. That is, there appears to be a matching threshold: Increasing the number of factors the message matches does not increase message effectiveness, possibly because it makes the message too redundant with the surrounding content.

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