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Team colors on cans change perceptions of alcohol risks, MU study finds
Date:11/10/2010

. Loersch said that this research did not investigate whether this change affected actual drinking behavior.

"Previous research has consistently demonstrated that people view members of their social groups as trustworthy and safe," Loersch said. "Our research indicates that this sense of interpersonal safety for ingroup members appears to extend to a product that, via its packaging, conveys cues for group affiliation. These results are important given that alcohol consumption is associated with unsafe behavior, often leading to increases in risk-taking, aggressiveness and likelihood of serious injury."

In the research, Loersch and Bartholow conducted three experiments. University of Missouri students were randomly assigned to view either a standard beer can or a fan can with MU colors along with other beverages. Participants in the first experiment rated beer consumption as less dangerous after having seen the fan can compared to the regular beer can. In the second experiment, participants who first saw the fan can were faster to recognize words indicating safety, and slower to recognize words indicating danger, than were participants who first saw a regular beer can. In the third experiment, participants who saw a fan can rated the local social scene as less dangerous compared to participants who saw a regular beer can or a bottle of water presented in university colors.

"Evidence-based prevention strategies focus on helping students accurately assess the risks associated with drinking," said Susan O'Neill, a psychologist with the MU Student Health Center. "Marketing campaigns that alter drinkers' perceptions of alcohol's potential risks -- particularly at an automatic or unconscious level -- have no place in college communities. Challenging the aggressive promotion of drinking, whether by campus social groups or national corporations, is important to create a campus culture that encourages responsible drinking."


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Contact: Christian Basi
BasiC@missouri.edu
573-882-4430
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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