Authors: Renske Koordeman, Emmanuel Kuntsche, Doeschka J. Anschutz, Rick B. van Baaren, Rutger C. M. E. Engels
Title: Do We Act upon What We See? Direct Effects of Alcohol Cues in Movies on Young Adults’ Alcohol Drinking
Journal: Alcohol and Alcoholism, 2011 Jul-Aug;46(4):393-8.
Aims: Ample survey research has shown that alcohol portrayals in movies affect the development of alcohol consumption in youth. Hence, there is preliminary evidence that alcohol portrayals in movies also directly influence viewers’ drinking of alcohol while watching movies. One process that might account for these direct effects is imitation. The present study therefore examined whether young people imitate actors sipping alcohol on screen.
Methods: We observed sipping behaviours of 79 young adults (ages 18–25) watching a 60-min movie clip, ‘What Happens in Vegas’, in a semi-naturalistic home setting. Each of the 79 participants was exposed to 25 alcohol cues. Two-level logistic regression analyses were used to analyse whether participants in general imitated actors’ sipping during this clip. In addition, we applied proportional hazard models in a survival analysis framework (Cox regression) to test whether there was a difference in imitation of the cues between male and female participants, and to test whether the timing of the actors’ sipping throughout the movie played a role.
Results: The findings showed that participants were more likely to sip in accordance with the actors’ sipping than without such a cue. Further, we found that men were more likely to imitate actors’ sipping than females and that participants tended to respond to actors’ sipping at the beginning of the movie rather than at the end.
Conclusion: Exposure to actors sipping alcohol in a movie seems to have an immediate impact on the drinking behaviour of viewers, via the mechanism of imitation.