Effectiveness of Cigarette Advertisements on Women: An Experimental Study

Barbara Loken, Beth Howard-Pitney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


We investigated three factors that could influence subjects' reactions to print advertisements for cigarettes. A total of 115 college women were shown cigarette ads that varied on two dimensions: whether an attractive model was shown and whether a general or specific warning label was shown. One half of the women were pretested on their beliefs about the hazards of smoking prior to seeing the ads; all of the women completed a posttest beliefs measure. Ratings of the attractiveness, persuasiveness, and credibility of the ads were collected, and the smoking status of subjects was assessed. Results indicated that specific warnings on ads can act as a counterinfluence to an ads' appeal by making it appear less attractive and less persuasive than if the ad contained only a general warning. This effect was especially true for smokers. Subjects also rated an ad as more attractive, more persuasive, and less credible when it showed an attractive model than when it did not. Being pretested on their beliefs about the hazards of smoking resulted in high attractiveness and persuasion ratings and in smokers' recalling and recognizing more of the specific warnings that appeared on ads. Practical and theoretical implications for the results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-382
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1988
Externally publishedYes


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