Attribution of arousal as a mediator of the effectiveness of fear-arousing communications

Tested the findings of I. L. Janis and S. Feshbach (see record 1954-00853-001) regarding the effects of fear-arousing communications and explored the relative impact of fear and attribution on intentions and actual behavior. 49 male smokers attending a German university were randomly assigned to a control group or to 1 of 3 experimental groups. Experimental Ss were exposed to a moderately fear-arousing antismoking movie and were administered a placebo pill that was said to have either arousing, tranquilizing, or no side effects. GSR was assessed during exposure to the movie. Subsequently, all Ss answered a questionnaire that assessed their attitudes toward smoking. Ss also received a self-report form to monitor their smoking behavior during the following 2 wks. Results indicate that Ss reported less intention to reduce smoking when they could attribute their arousal to the presumably arousing pill, and greater intention to do so when they expected the pill to be tranquilizing, than when they expected no side effects. The self-reported number of cigarettes smoked during a 2-wk period following the experiment decreased only in the tranquilizing and no side-effects conditions. The data on Ss' intentions are consistent with predictions derived from H. H. Kelley's (1972) discounting and augmentation principles and demonstrate informational functions of affective states. (13 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)