Authors: Thomas A. Wills, Frederick X. Gibbons, James D. Sargent, Meg Gerrard, Hye-Ryeon Lee, Sonya Dal Cin
Title: Good self-control moderates the effect of mass media on adolescent tobacco and alcohol use: Tests with studies of children and adolescents
Journal: Health Psychology, Vol 29(5), Sep 2010, 539-549.
Objective: To investigate whether self-control moderates the effect of media influences on tobacco and alcohol use among youth and if so how this effect occurs.
Design: In Study 1, a regional sample of 10-year olds ( N = 290) was interviewed in households; attention to tobacco/alcohol advertising was assessed. In Study 2, a national sample of youth ages 10–14 years ( N = 6,522) was surveyed by telephone; exposure to tobacco/alcohol use in movies was assessed. Good self-control was measured in both studies.
Main Outcome Measures: Willingness to use substances and affiliation with peer substance users (Study 1); involvement in smoking or drinking (Study 2).
Results: In Study 1, the effect of tobacco/alcohol advertising on predisposition for substance use was lower among persons scoring higher on good self-control. In Study 2, the effect of movie smoking/alcohol exposure on adolescent tobacco/alcohol use was lower, concurrently and prospectively, among persons scoring higher on good self-control. Moderation occurred primarily through reducing the effect of movie exposure on positive smoking/alcohol expectancies and the effect of expectancies on adolescent use; some evidence for moderation of social processes was also noted. Covariates in the analyses included demographics, sensation seeking, and IQ.
Conclusion: Good self-control reduces the effect of adverse media influences on adolescent tobacco and alcohol use. Findings on the processes underlying this effect may be useful for media literacy and primary prevention programs.