Centre for Behavioural
Research in Cancer

Identifying levels and types of emotion that maximise effectiveness of anti-smoking ads, especially in low socio-economic smokers

While there is strong evidence that mass media tobacco control campaigns reduce smoking behaviour, there remains much to be learnt about the characteristics of messages most likely to change attitudes and behaviour. Recent research suggests the level and type of emotion evoked is likely to be important. This study investigates the optimum levels and types of emotion evoked by anti-smoking campaigns for influencing key outcomes such as quit attempts. To inform whether messages need to be tailored for disadvantaged groups, this study also aims to examine impact among low socio-economic smokers.

In the first phase of the study, smokers will rate a series of anti-smoking advertisements scheduled to be broadcast in the Australian state of Victoria, to enable selection of those ads that best depict target emotions (i.e. high fear, high sadness, positive emotion or low emotion). In the main population study, adult smokers will be asked about their smoking behaviour and quitting intentions during and just after the selected advertisements have been broadcast as part of a real-word media campaign. Comparisons will be made (campaign recall, campaign discussion, quit attempts) between smokers exposed to advertising known to evoke different kinds of emotions. Content analyses will also been conducted to examine the specific elements within advertisements that are associated with evoking the most effective emotions. Findings will provide crucial information about the most efficient and effective use of tobacco control campaign funds in Australia.

CBRC staff

A/Prof Sarah Durkin, Prof Melanie Wakefield, Megan Bayly, Dr Emily Brennan, Dr Danielle Schoenaker


Dr Lois Biener (University of Massachusetts, Boston USA), Quit Victoria, Media and Communications team (Prevention Division, Cancer Council Victoria)


NHMRC Partnership Grant (1016419) with VicHealth, Quit Victoria (which is funded by VicHealth and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services), Cancer Council Victoria


2011 - present