Hendriks, H., De Bruijn, G.-J, Meehan, O., Van den Putte, B. (2016). Online and offline conversations about alcohol: Comparing the effects of familiar and unfamiliar discussion partners. Journal of Health Communication, 21(7), 734-742. doi:10.1080/10810730.2016.1153766

Abstract: Although research has demonstrated that interpersonal communication about alcohol influences drinking behaviors, this notion has mainly been examined in offline contexts with familiar conversation partners. The present study investigated how communication mode and familiarity
influence conversational valence (i.e., how negatively or positively people talk) and binge drinking norms. During a 2 (offline vs. online communication) × 2 (unfamiliar vs. familiar conversation partner) lab experiment, participants (N = 76) were exposed to an anti–binge drinking campaign, after which they discussed binge drinking and the campaign. Binge drinking norms were measured 1 week before and directly after the discussion. Results revealed that conversations between unfamiliar conversation partners were positive about the campaign, especially in offline settings, subsequently leading to healthier binge drinking norms. We recommend that researchers further investigate the influence of communication mode and familiarity on discussion effects, and we suggest that health promotion attempts might benefit from eliciting conversations about anti–binge drinking campaigns between unfamiliar persons.

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