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TV Delivers Mixed Messages About Alcohol

A new study has found that efforts to dissuade youth consumption through negative alcohol consumption depictions can be thwarted by portrayals of positive consumption in prime-time television programming.

The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Affairs, reveals that television series often portray mixed messages about alcohol, but the positive and negative messages were shown differently.

The research, led by Dale W. Russell and Cristel A. Russell, research scientists at the Prevention Research Center, is based on a content analysis of prime-time television series from the 2004-05 season.

The primary, more central, alcohol message was often associated with negative elements such as crime, addiction, or lowered job performance while the secondary, more subtle visual message was almost always associated with positive outcomes, such as having fun or partying. Thus, the positive messages might undermine any negative messages.

“Policymakers and parents need to remain vigilant in monitoring alcohol depictions, especially product placements, given the current environment of self-regulation of the alcohol industry’s marketing/advertising efforts,” the authors conclude.

Because of television’s effect on the audience’s attitudes and behaviors, the prevalence of alcohol messages in the content of television programs raises concerns over their likely impact on audiences, especially young ones.

The research team is continuing its efforts to study how such messages are processed and the consequences they have on viewers’ beliefs about alcohol and drinking behaviors.

Source: Wiley-Blackwell

TV Delivers Mixed Messages About Alcohol

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). TV Delivers Mixed Messages About Alcohol. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 22, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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