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TV drama can be more persuasive than news program, study finds
Date:2/9/2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio- A fictional television drama may be more effective in persuading young women to use birth control than a news-format program on the same issue, according to a new study.

Researchers found that college-age women who viewed a televised drama about a teen pregnancy felt more vulnerable two weeks after watching the show, and this led to more support for using birth control.

However, those who watched a news program detailing the difficulties caused by teen pregnancies were unmoved, and had no change in their intentions to use birth control.

The results show the power that narratives like TV shows can have in influencing people, said Emily Moyer-Gus, co-author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University.

"A message that is hidden inside of a story may overcome some of the resistance people have to being told how to behave," Moyer-Gus said.

"The impact that dramatized stories have on people's beliefs and intentions depends a lot on the individual viewers, and not just the message- but our results suggest the effect can be there."

Moyer-Gus conducted the study with Robin Nabi of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Their research appears in the current issue of the journal Human Communication Research.

The study involved 353 undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 25. All of them watched one of two programs that focused on the difficulties associated with unplanned teen pregnancies.

Half of the participants watched a program developed by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy to be broadcast on Channel One- a news program that airs in many U.S. high schools. This program used a news format, and profiled male and female teen parents. The overall message was that teen pregnancy makes life as a young adult more difficult.

The remaining participants watched an episode of the U.S. teen drama, The OC. In this e
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Contact: Emily Moyer-Gus
Moyer-Guse.1@osu.edu
614-247-7724
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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