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    024016

    Possible effects of mass media on contraceptive behavior: a preliminary review of research.

    UNESCO

    [Unpublished] 1972 Sep 20. 15 p. (COM/72/CONF.32/A/5)

    The widely differing opinions concerning the effects of mass media on behavior suggests the need to question some strongly held beliefs among population communicators. On the basis of this awareness the discussion reviews some of the existing major communication studies in the areas of voting behavior, purchasing behavior, and smoking behavior as well as family planning communication research studies to shed some light on what effects one might expect the mass media to have on contraceptive behavior. Little is known about the effects of mass media on voting behavior. Research has provided few definitive answers. All studies suggest that most voters in the US and the UK vote for the party label rather than the candidate. It has been noted that mass media does not change attitudes and behavior and reinforces existing behavior and attitudes. Exposure to mass media ishighly selective. Most people have an exaggerated fear of the persuasive power of advertising campaigns. The effects of an advertising program, among other variables, depends upon the skill of the advertiser in reaching the right audience with the most persuasive messages over the proper media mix, with a useful product at the proper competitive price. Advertising can announce the availability of a product, shape brand images, create positive attitudes toward a product, and reinforce existing attutudes--all of which are steps toward a trial purchase of a new product. Efforts to reduce cigarette consumption in the US via the mass media have been substantial. A random telephone survey concluded that only those individuals predisposed to giving up smoking reported that commercials persuading cigarette smokers to cut down or quit had any significant effect on them. A review of the history of family planning communications research is difficult for several reasons: several hundred studies have been completed which relate to family planning; the quality of these studies varies greatly; and most are relevant only to specific cultural areas. The result of such dissimilarity is that generalizations are almost impossible. A few of the better known and more successful studies are reviewed. The majority of these studies are concerned with communication campaigns using a wide variety of media ranging from wall writings to television. It seems that as far as short-term, general, large scale behavioral effects are concerned, a mass media campaign is ineffective in increasing clinic attendance and is ineffective in increasing nonclinic sales of contraceptives.
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