The effect of motivation on the cognitive and emotional processing of anti-smoking advertisements

Date of Completion

January 2007


Business Administration, Marketing|Health Sciences, Public Health|Psychology, Cognitive|Mass Communications




The objective of this research was to test a proposed dual-process model surrounding motivation and emotion based on Belief System Theory (BST), Affect Reason Involvement Model (ARI), and Information Processing Theory (IPT) within anti-smoking advertising context and to test the effects of fear appeal in anti-smoking advertising messages. The proposed model represents a fundamentally different conceptualization of dual process. It incorporates both the cognitive standard processes (i.e. mediation of ad cognition to ad evaluation) and affective emotional processes (i.e. mediation of emotions to attitude change). ^ On-line survey procedure among 750 students generated ample sample for the two ad-message sample analyses. Reliability tests were performed on all the major measurement scales. Path models were developed to test the proposed standard cognitive processing model, which was predominantly left-brain, and the affective emotional processing model, which was primarily right-brain. The series of tested models were significant in model fit and path coefficients. ^ Results show the success of using a motivational approach in testing anti-smoking advertisements and testing the proposed integrative dual-process framework. The important roles played by motivation and emotion were proved in a dual-process model, therefore broadens the scope of dual-process modeling framework. Fear appeals in both ads were effective in generating fearful emotions in the participants and eventually decreased participants' perception of tobacco company credibility and intention to smoke. Anger increased participants' anti-smoking attitudes directly. Participants' smoking involvement decreased their perception of tobacco company credibility directly. This shows that smokers are well-informed about tobacco companies' unfair, irresponsible and inappropriate manipulations. However, smokers' smoking involvement also increased their pride (i.e. feeling proud, amused, hopeful, sexy and powerful) or reptilian emotions. This indicates that smokers have been "educated" by tobacco companies in seeing smoking as glamorous, sexy, popular and fun. Tobacco companies' "teaching" builds resistance in smokers against processing anti-smoking advertising messages and making them fail to perceive the coherence and clarity of the anti-smoking messages. However, smokers know very well the negative consequences of cigarette smoking and therefore they feel both positive, such as prideful, and negative, such as depressed, fearful, angry and guilty, about smoking. Better understanding of smokers' frustration may help develop. ^