Van Leeuwen, L., Van Den Putte, B., Renes, R. J., & Leeuwis, C. (2016). Do narrative engagement and recipients’ thoughts explain the impact of an entertainment-education narrative on discouraging binge drinking? Media Psychology, 1–27. doi:10.1080/15213269.2016.1142379

Previous research suggests that narrative engagement (NE) in entertainment-education (E-E) narratives reduces counterarguing, thereby leading to E-E impact on behavior. It is, however, unclear how different NE processes (narrative understanding, attentional focus, emotional engagement, narrative presence) relate to different thought types (negative or positive; about the narrative form or about the target behavior) and to E-E impact. This study explores these relations in the context of alcohol binge drinking (BD). Participants (N = 172) watched an E-E narrative showing negative BD consequences, thereby aiming to discourage BD. Main findings were that the E-E narrative had a positive impact on discouraging BD on almost all assessed BD determinants such as beliefs and attitude. It was shown that attentional focus, emotional engagement, and narrative presence were associated with BD-discouraging impact, albeit on different BD-related determinants. No evidence was found that negative thoughts about BD mediated these associations. From this we conclude that attentional focus, emotional engagement, and narrative presence were important for E-E impact but that negative thoughts about BD did not play a role therein. The study’s empirical and practical implications are discussed.

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