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

ed to greater intentions to use birth control.

"Many of the women participants were able to put themselves in the place of the characters and sense they could end up in a similar situation if they weren't careful," Moyer-Gus said.

Feeling vulnerable was the key to accepting birth control practices for the women in the study.

"One of the reasons why some people avoid safer sex behaviors is because they feel invulnerable- they have this optimistic bias that nothing bad will ever happen to them," she said.

"But if you vicariously experience a bad result happening to you by watching a narrative program, that may change behavior in a way that is difficult to achieve through a direct message."

Participants, particularly women, were more likely to be persuaded to use birth control if they felt the program they watched didn't have an overt safe-sex message.

Most people didn't think The OC episode was preaching the use of birth control, but those who did were much less likely to increase their intentions to use birth control, the findings showed.

In addition, those who reported that they reacted to the characters in The OC as if they were friends were also less likely to see an overt message in the show, and were more likely to accept birth control practices.

Moyer-Gus emphasized that the results don't mean that men aren't persuaded by narratives such as TV dramas.

"The show we chose happened to connect less with the men. But if we picked another topic or another show, I believe a narrative program could also be persuasive to male viewers."

While these results suggest persuasive messages might be better received by people if they are wrapped up in a story, Moyer-Gus cautions that it isn't always that simple. As the different reactions of men and women in this study showed, a lot depends on the individual viewers and not just the message.

"The problem with using stories to persu
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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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