Abstract: The present experimental study investigated Dutch respondents’ reactions to direct-to-consumer advertising of drugs (DTCA), whereby the focus was on the third-person effect. As well, on the role of the endorser’s supposed expertise and the seriousness of side-effects displayed in the advertisements in shaping these reactions. Results suggest that negative reactions to DTCA concerned the tolerability and appreciation of the advertisements more than the advertised drugs or interest in trying the drug per se, suggesting that Dutch reactions to DTCA are at least partly shaped by a third-person effect in the appraisal of controversial media content. In line with the Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion, the third-person perspective in the appraisal of the DTCA’s was further found to manifest particularly under conditions of the ‘peripheral cues’ of expert endorsement and milder side-effects. Discussion focuses among others on the role of the third-person effect in shaping negative media coverage of DTCA.
Keywords: direct-to-consumer advertising (DCTA), third person effect