Movies Encourage Youngsters to Drink More Alcohol, Study


A study conducted by researchers at the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands found that most films glamorise drinking, which encourages young people to consume more alcohol.

Researchers said that majority of movies, around 80 to 95 percent, show alcohol in a positive light. Besides movies, exposure to alcohol in advertisements and digital media like Facebook can also promote drinking behaviour in young people.

Unlike alcohol advertisements, movies exhibit alcohol in a subtle way. Films showing alcohol brands along with prominent actors are considered more dangerous than television ads since viewers are unconsciously processing the messages. And these messages are not perceived as a direct form of advertisement.

Plus, young people are mentally and physically more involved in a movie than an advertisement.

"Since movie characters can be regarded as role models by young people, the manner in which these characters portray alcohol use in a movie might have an impact on the beliefs and attitudes of youngsters towards alcohol use," said Professor Marloes Kleinjan, from Radboud University Nijmegen, in a press release.

Researchers conducted experiments to determine how glamorising drinking in movies affect viewers.

For the study, researchers showed 159 college students (84 males, 75 females) aged between 18-38 different movie clips that depicted alcohol - either in a positive or negative limelight. Researchers then asked the participants about their emotional involvement in the film and if they experienced a strong urge to drink while watching the clips.

Researchers found that participants had a positive attitude towards movie clips with alcohol displays as compared to the movie clips without alcohol. Participants were extremely engaged in movie clips that had negative presentation of alcohol and drinking than those with alcohol in positive light.

"However, participants preferred more positive attitudes toward clips with positive alcohol portrayals compared to clips with negative alcohol portrayals," said Researcher Renske Koordeman. "Stronger effects of negative events over positive events are found in various aspects of life. For example: in social network patterns, in learning processes and in interpersonal interactions. This process might also be extended to media effects."

The findings are published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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