||1R01CA224545-01A1 Interpret this number
||Harvard School Of Public Health
||Informing Anti-Tobacco Communications with Affective and Decision Science: Application of the Appraisal Tendency Framework
PROJECT SUMMARY / ABSTRACT
Recent decades have witnessed an explosion of scientific research on emotion and decision making. This
project aims to harness insights from this burgeoning body of research to develop a theoretically-grounded and
empirically-tested foundation for improving the effectiveness of emotionally-evocative public service
announcements (PSAs) that target smoking. PSAs constitute a cornerstone in federal- and state- funded
cancer control efforts, but large gaps exist in understanding how and for whom emotionally-evocative PSAs are
effective, revealing a critical need for research. Although anti-smoking PSAs can be effective at a population
level, some evidence shows that they can also trigger unintended “boomerang” effects. Moreover, results of
previous studies on human emotions suggest that PSAs that induce sadness may ironically increase smokers’
impatience for and valuation of cigarettes. Likewise, although many PSAs are designed to evoke feelings such
as sadness, few, if any, systematic studies have taken a theory-guided and empirically rigorous approach to
testing which specific emotions will trigger which behavioral effects.
Research drawing on the widely-applied Appraisal Tendency Framework (Lerner & Keltner, 2000; 2001)
provides a basis for such emotion specific effects. Applying this framework, this project will conduct three
studies that compare the effects of sadness versus gratitude (and control emotions of similar valence to each)
on immediate and long-term smoking behavior. We select sadness because our previous research reveals that
sadness increases temporal discount rate (i.e., impatience), and contrast it with gratitude, which decreases
temporal discount rate. We also select sadness because our formative research reveals that it is the most
frequently evoked negative emotion in the Centers for Disease Control’s anti-tobacco public service campaign.
In Study 1, we will assess the specific effects of sadness and gratitude on impatience for immediate smoking
reward among a nationally representative web-based sample. To test for emotion specificity, we contrast
sadness with disgust and gratitude with happiness. To understand for whom emotion induction yields greatest
impact, we will conduct moderation analyses assessing social and demographic factors that predispose
individuals to higher smoking risk. In Study 2a, we will assess the effect of sadness and gratitude on temporal
discounting of immediate smoking reward, valuation of cigarettes, and smoking cognitions and behaviors. In
Study 2b, we will assess the cumulative effect on cessation behavior of repeated exposure to emotion
induction (x 4) over a 90-day period. The project will provide a theoretically-grounded framework for more
precise prediction of the outcomes of exposure to PSAs. It will also provide a scientific base for future
development of PSAs to reduce tobacco use and promote cancer prevention. Finally, because the project
includes an interdisciplinary team representing public health, emotion science, decision science, economics,
and statistics, the research integrates insights from multiple literatures.
Sadness, but not all negative emotions, heightens addictive substance use.
, Wang K.
, Rees V.W.
, Kawachi I.
, Ericson K.M.M.
, Lerner J.S.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2020-01-14; 117(2), p. 943-949.