Van Asbeek-Brusse, E. D., Fransen, M. L., & Smit, E. G. (2015). Educational storylines in entertainment television: Audience reactions towards persuasive strategies in medical dramas. Journal of Health Communication, 20(4), 396-405. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2014.965365

Abstract: Medical television drama series provide an important source of health information. This form of entertainment-education (E-E) can be used to influence knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors toward health-related issues. In the literature, E-E is generally regarded as a persuasive strategy in itself, whereas in an increasing number of E-E programs, several different persuasive strategies are used. An important question is how the audience ethically evaluates these strategies. The aim of the present study is to examine viewers’ ethical judgments toward the use of three persuasive strategies in E-E: product placement, framing, and persuasion toward a controversial position. A survey among 525 viewers of 5 popular medical dramas demonstrates that viewers evaluate the use of the currently investigated attitudinal statements about potential persuasive strategies in E-E as being immoral and that viewers prefer neutral storylines. Adopting a strategy that viewers find inappropriate may interfere with the intended prosocial effects of E-E. A broader understanding of the appropriate and inappropriate uses of persuasive strategies in E-E is indispensable for effective E-E productions.

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