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Teens and alcohol: A consumer behavior analysis of interpersonal communication and mass media effects

Purdue University
Publication Date
  • Business Administration
  • Marketing|Speech Communication|Health Sciences
  • Public Health|Mass Communications
  • Communication


The purpose of this study was to investigate a health and public policy issue in terms of consumer behavior and communication theories. The Health Belief Model (Rosenstock, 1974) provided the foundation for studying social marketing and liquor industry advertising with interpersonal communication between a teen and peers, a teen and parents and a teen and other adults with alcohol consumption behavior. Since the teen segment differs in ways that are particular only to this age group, a revised model was proposed. This model was tested using national data from the “Monitoring the Future” study. ^ It was found that there was no significant effect of either social marketing efforts or liquor industry advertising on teen drinking from 1998–2001. Interpersonal communications between a teen and others were tested from 1993–2001 on four dimensions: (1) the importance of having a strong friendship, (2) satisfaction with time spent with friends and others (3) satisfaction with the way teen gets along with parents and (4) how much time is spent with an adult over 30. Significant differences were found between males and females in terms of communication variables and alcohol use. Males rely upon peers for drinking support, and females who report more time spent with adults over 30 drink less. A regression analysis found that there was also a time lag effect between the communication variables alcohol use. As satisfaction with friends and time spent with others increases, over time, alcohol use also increases. The strength of the teen peer network clearly influences drinking behavior. ^ Based on these results, a new Health Belief Model with changes was proposed. This model can then guide social marketers and public policy makers to guide programs that will positively affect the teen drinking problem. ^

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