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First Person and Social Distance Effects of Anti-Smoking Radio PSAs
Unformatted Document Text:  First Person Effects 3 In addition to structural message characteristics, the extent to which the content of the message is consistent with audiences’ pre-existing attitudes and behaviors can influence perceptions of the relative impact of that message on self and other (Cohen & Davis, 1991). First person effects may be particularly evident for health intervention messages that serve to reinforce existing beliefs and behaviors. These types of messages may not only be viewed as being desirable, but may also be perceived as being personally relevant. For example, an earlier stage of this study compared smoking and non-smoking college students’ responses to Radio PSA anti-smoking messages (XXXX, 2003). We found a “classic” third-person effect for smokers (effects on self received lower ratings than perceived effects on others), but a first person effect for non-smokers (ratings for effects on self were higher than ratings for effects on others). Consistent with earlier findings, this study predicts that for the non-smoking participants in this study: H1: There will be a first person effect of the anti-smoking messages such that participants will report greater effects of the message on self than on others. Social Distance Corollary In distinguishing between self and “other,” the identity of the “other” may also influence perceptions of relative effects. A number of studies have found that third person effects are greater when there is greater social distance between the self and the comparison third person (Cohen et al., 1988; Perloff, 1999). People are less likely to distinguish between self and “specific” others (best friends or relatives) than between self and “general” others (most people in their age group or the average person). For example, in a study of non-smoking children’s perceptions concerning the impact of cigarette advertising, Henriksen & Flora (1999) found that children not only reported that they were less likely than their best friends and peers to be

Authors: Chock, Tamara., Fox, Julia., Angelini, James., Lee, Seungjo. and Lang, Annie.
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First Person Effects 3
In addition to structural message characteristics, the extent to which the content of the
message is consistent with audiences’ pre-existing attitudes and behaviors can influence
perceptions of the relative impact of that message on self and other (Cohen & Davis, 1991).
First person effects may be particularly evident for health intervention messages that serve to
reinforce existing beliefs and behaviors. These types of messages may not only be viewed as
being desirable, but may also be perceived as being personally relevant. For example, an
earlier stage of this study compared smoking and non-smoking college students’ responses to
Radio PSA anti-smoking messages (XXXX, 2003). We found a “classic” third-person effect for
smokers (effects on self received lower ratings than perceived effects on others), but a first
person effect for non-smokers (ratings for effects on self were higher than ratings for effects on
others). Consistent with earlier findings, this study predicts that for the non-smoking participants
in this study:
H1:
There will be a first person effect of the anti-smoking messages such that
participants will report greater effects of the message on self than on others.
Social Distance Corollary
In distinguishing between self and “other,” the identity of the “other” may also influence
perceptions of relative effects. A number of studies have found that third person effects are
greater when there is greater social distance between the self and the comparison third person
(Cohen et al., 1988; Perloff, 1999). People are less likely to distinguish between self and
“specific” others (best friends or relatives) than between self and “general” others (most people
in their age group or the average person). For example, in a study of non-smoking children’s
perceptions concerning the impact of cigarette advertising, Henriksen & Flora (1999) found that
children not only reported that they were less likely than their best friends and peers to be


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