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First Person and Social Distance Effects of Anti-Smoking Radio PSAs
Unformatted Document Text:  First Person Effects 18 members. In contrast, earlier studies found that smokers reported 3 rd person effects for anti- smoking PSAs (XXXX, 2003). “Social Distance” effects were also found in first-person judgments. Although these non- smoking participants rated themselves as more likely to be influenced by the anti-smoking messages than their best friends, they also rated their best friends as being significantly more likely to be affected than would most people in their respective age groups. Social distance effects have not typically been examined in studies of first person effects. A number of potential explanations for social distance effects in traditional third person effects studies have been posited, including perceptions of relative media exposure, ego-defensiveness, and in-group/out- group distinctions. Determining that people are less likely to distinguish effects between themselves and close friends as compared to themselves and distant others when making first- person as well as third-person judgments raises questions about the underlying processes involved in making these distinctions. As participants were evaluating specific messages, perceptions of relative exposure would not explain these findings. Ego-defensiveness, or the desire to assume that close others were also at less risk, also does not seem as applicable in explaining responses to what are apparently socially desirable messages. It is possible that participants’ judgments concerning effects might reflect perceptions of similarity—justified or unjustified--of close others to self. This may not, however, reflect misperceptions on the part of participants. Participants were not asked whether their best friend smoked. It is possible that non-smokers are simply more likely to have best friends who don’t smoke and who would be more likely to be influenced by anti-smoking messages than would other people in their age group. This would not explain, however, why participants rated themselves as being significantly more likely than their best friend to be influenced by these messages. It is also noteworthy that this social distance was found for tweens whose friends are (hopefully) unlikely to be smoking at present. Future research is needed to further examine these relationships.

Authors: Chock, Tamara., Fox, Julia., Angelini, James., Lee, Seungjo. and Lang, Annie.
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First Person Effects 18
members. In contrast, earlier studies found that smokers reported 3
rd
person effects for anti-
smoking PSAs (XXXX, 2003).
“Social Distance” effects were also found in first-person judgments. Although these non-
smoking participants rated themselves as more likely to be influenced by the anti-smoking
messages than their best friends, they also rated their best friends as being significantly more
likely to be affected than would most people in their respective age groups. Social distance
effects have not typically been examined in studies of first person effects. A number of potential
explanations for social distance effects in traditional third person effects studies have been
posited, including perceptions of relative media exposure, ego-defensiveness, and in-group/out-
group distinctions. Determining that people are less likely to distinguish effects between
themselves and close friends as compared to themselves and distant others when making first-
person as well as third-person judgments raises questions about the underlying processes
involved in making these distinctions. As participants were evaluating specific messages,
perceptions of relative exposure would not explain these findings. Ego-defensiveness, or the
desire to assume that close others were also at less risk, also does not seem as applicable in
explaining responses to what are apparently socially desirable messages. It is possible that
participants’ judgments concerning effects might reflect perceptions of similarity—justified or
unjustified--of close others to self. This may not, however, reflect misperceptions on the part of
participants. Participants were not asked whether their best friend smoked. It is possible that
non-smokers are simply more likely to have best friends who don’t smoke and who would be
more likely to be influenced by anti-smoking messages than would other people in their age
group. This would not explain, however, why participants rated themselves as being
significantly more likely than their best friend to be influenced by these messages. It is also
noteworthy that this social distance was found for tweens whose friends are (hopefully) unlikely
to be smoking at present. Future research is needed to further examine these relationships.


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