Background: Anthropomorphism is attribution of human characteristics to nonhuman objects or events. Marketers have used anthropomorphized characters to promote products and services. To promote use of generic drugs to save on prescription drug costs, health systems are in the process of developing informational materials to influence consumer's perceptions about generic prescription drugs. Objectives: To evaluate the effects of anthropomorphic images (control vs caring vs authoritative) and information narration styles (first person vs third person) on (1) social presence, (2) attitude toward the overall promotional message, (3) perceived informativeness of the message content, (4) attitude toward specific message, (5) intent to seek information, and (6) intention to switch to a generic prescription drug. Methods: A 3 × 2 between-subject factorial design was used. Student participants were administered a mock promotional message regarding generic prescription drugs. Following the promotional message, they were asked to respond to items developed to measure the effects of the promotional message. Manipulation checks were conducted to test the desired effects of the independent variables. Pilot testing, exploratory factor analysis, and reliability testing of the item measures were conducted before their use in the study. Analysis of variance was used to analyze the data and test the proposed effects of the independent variables. Results: Anthropomorphic images showed a positive effect on social presence and attitude toward the specific message. Narration styles had a positive effect on attitude toward the overall promotional message. Neither anthropomorphic images nor narration styles had a significant effect on perceived informativeness, intent to seek information, and intention to switch to a generic prescription drug. Conclusions: This research reveals that anthropomorphism of medications and narration styles could play a significant role in promotional messages for generic prescription drugs. These findings provide a new direction in developing educational materials for information about generic prescription drugs.
- Generic prescription drugs
- Health care communication