Reducing Defensive Reactions to Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels through Self-Affirmation
Principal Investigator: Xiaoli Nan
Co-Investigators: Robert Feldman, James Butler, Min Qi Wang
Funding Source: National Cancer Institute; $357,552 (2014-2017)
Summary: The overarching purpose of the proposed research is to harness new developments in psychological and communication sciences to address a key obstacle in communication-based smoking cessation efforts – the tendency for smokers to react defensively toward smoking risk information – and apply relevant knowledge to the promotion of smoking cessation among African American smokers. The proposed project seeks to evaluate an innovative approach based on self-affirmation theory to supressing smokers’ defensive processing of smoking risk information in a laboratory-based randomized trial involving African American smokers. Specifically, this project aims to 1) determine whether self-affirmation (vs. no self-affirmation) reduces defensive responses toward graphic cigarette warning labels; 2) ascertain whether self-affirmation (vs. no self-affirmation) leads to more negative explicit and implicit attitudes toward smoking, greater intentions to quit, and reduced cigarette consumption following exposure to graphic cigarette warning labels; and 3) investigate whether smoking identity moderates the effects of self-affirmation. The proposed project addresses a major public health concern as well as significant tobacco-related health disparities. This study will advance scientific knowledge on self-affirmation as a mechanism for reducing smokers’ defensive processing of smoking risk messages. The findings will be directly relevant to the translation of the basic behavioral science underlying smoking risk communication into enhanced smoking cessation approaches. If self-affirmation functions as expected in the proposed randomized trial, a self-affirmation task can be easily implemented in communication-based smoking cessation interventions to enhance the outcomes. The proposed study will also provide direct evidence relevant to the ongoing public health debate concerning the effectiveness of graphic warning labels as a means of communicating smoking risks in the United States.