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Ann Behav Med. 2019 Mar 20;53(4):358-371. doi: 10.1093/abm/kay050.

Pictorial Warning Labels and Memory for Cigarette Health-risk Information Over Time.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.
2
College of Public Health, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.
3
Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Pictorial cigarette warning labels are thought to increase risk knowledge, but experimental research has not examined longer-term effects on memory for health risks named in text.

PURPOSE:

To investigate memory-consolidation predictions that high- versus low-emotion warnings would support better long-term memory for named cigarette health risks and to test a mediational model of warning-label effects through memory on risk perceptions and quit intentions.

METHODS:

A combined sample of U.S.-representative adult smokers, U.S.-representative teen smokers/vulnerable smokers, and Appalachian-representative adult smokers were randomly assigned to a warning-label condition (High-emotion pictorial, Low-emotion pictorial, Text-only) in which they were exposed four times to nine warning labels and reported emotional reactions and elaboration. Memory of warning-label risk information, smoking risk perceptions, and quit intentions were assessed immediately after exposures or 6 weeks later.

RESULTS:

Recall of warning-label text was low across the samples and supported memory-consolidation predictions. Specifically, immediate recall was highest for Low-emotion warnings that elicited the least emotion, but recall also declined the most over time in this condition, leaving its 6-week recall lowest; 6-week recall was similar for High-emotion and Text-only warnings. Greater recall was associated with higher risk perceptions and greater quit intentions and mediated part of warning-label effects on these important smoking outcomes. High-emotion warnings had additional non-memory-related effects on risk perceptions and quit intentions that were superior to text-only warnings.

CONCLUSIONS:

High- but not Low-emotion pictorial warning labels may support the Food and Drug Administration's primary goal to "effectively convey the negative health consequences of smoking."

CLINICALTRIALS.GOV IDENTIFIER:

NCT03375840.

KEYWORDS:

Emotion; Memory; Pictorial warning labels; Quit intentions; Risk knowledge; Risk perceptions; Smoking

PMID:
29947729
PMCID:
PMC6289901
[Available on 2019-06-26]
DOI:
10.1093/abm/kay050

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