You Mad? Using Anger Appeals to Promote Activism Intentions and Policy Support in the Context of Sugary Drink Marketing to Kids

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Abstract

One proposed solution to address childhood obesity is to limit children’s exposure to advertising for sugar-sweetened beverages. Might persuasive appeals be able to channel anger toward the soda industry in order to promote support for marketing regulations and increase intentions to engage in activism around this issue? This study sought to answer this question by drawing on research in communication and psychology about the relationships between anger, persuasion, and activism-related outcomes. Participants (N = 551) were randomly assigned to read one of four messages about sugary drink marketing to kids, following a 2 (anger: high vs. low) × 2 (efficacy: high vs. low) design, or to a no-exposure control group. There was a main effect of the anger manipulation on policy support, which was driven by support for punitively oriented policies. Although no main effects were observed for activism intentions, mediation analyses indicated indirect effects of the anger and efficacy appeals on intentions by way of evoked anger and perceived efficacy, respectively. Contrary to expectations, messaging effects did not differ for pro-attitudinal and counter-attitudinal groups. Implications for public health advocacy and persuasion research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1775-1787
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Communication
Volume34
Issue number14
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 6 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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