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Journal Article


Duong HT, Liu J. Am. J. Health Educ. 2019; 50(1): 25-39.


(Copyright © 2019, American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, Publisher Informa - Taylor and Francis Group)






BACKGROUND: Research has documented the impact of descriptive norms on tobacco use, but few studies have investigated how media exposure shapes e-cigarette use norms.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine how exposure to e-cigarette-related news articles shapes individuals' descriptive norm perceptions about real-world e-cigarette use.

METHOD: The study implemented an experiment with a 2 normative direction (high vs low prevalence) × 2 exposure dosage (single vs double dose) between-subjects factorial design (N = 298). Analysis of variance and thematic analysis were conducted.

RESULTS: Normative direction and exposure dosage of prevalence information contained in the news articles interacted to influence perceived descriptive norms. Increasing the dosage of prevalence information enhanced descriptive norm perceptions in low-prevalence conditions only. Participants relied on institutional signals and behavioral cues to infer descriptive norms when prevalence information was absent in the news.

DISCUSSION: The study investigates the underlying mechanism of how news articles may influence normative perceptions.Translation to Health Educational Practice: Given that news media may inadvertently form social norms that are conducive to e-cigarette use behavior, Health Educators should pay attention to descriptive norms emanated from the news media environment. They should also consider norm debiasing strategies and the integration of dosage of low-prevalence information into social norm messages.

Language: en


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