Interactive Websites COULD CAUSE Antismoking Messages To Backfire

S. Shyam Sundar, James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects, co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory and an affiliate of Penn State’s Institute for CyberScience (ICS). According to Sundar, adding interactive features to websites tends to be a popular way to increase user engagement. However, before experts have cautioned health communicators about the potential of boomerang impact, where interactivity might make certain people more defensive.

Sundar, who caused Jeeyun Oh, assistant professor of advertising, University of Texas at Austin. For nonsmokers and folks who were more comfortable with called power users-the interactive features got the contrary effect technology-also. Because they repeatedly clicked and dragged sliders, they felt more focused and absorbed and said the anti-smoking message was more believable and accurate.

Oh, the lead author of the scholarly research. The researchers, who released their findings in the journal Health Communication, claim that health communicators may choose to develop different websites based on how targeted audiences may respond to interactive features. For instance, a website aimed at avoiding nonsmokers from starting may offer more interactive features, while one which seeks to help smokers quit may use less of these tools.

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The analysts recruited 149 individuals for the analysis, which was conducted on Amazon Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourced site which allows people to receive a commission to participate in studies. Participants were asked to explore a website called “Tobacco Free USA” and find out as much as they could about three topics: how smoking affected appearance, the mind and the respiratory system.

The recruits would get around to a page with text explaining the health conditions that smokers may experience, plus they proceeded to go to a page with an interactive image then. The researchers used images of a woman’s face, brain activity, and lungs that would change to show possible ramifications of smoking when the participant moved a slider along underneath of the picture. Oh, said using the interactive slider was designed to provide a vibrant, information-rich tool that could better indulge the participants’ perceptions, also known as their perceptual bandwidth. Before the scholarly study, the participants filled out a questionnaire that measured their smoking status, baseline beliefs on smoking outcomes, knowledge of using the net, and demographic information. Following the participants browsed the web site, they filled out a questionnaire to measure, among other variables, their attitude toward the site’s interactivity and its credibility. Then, the research workers examined log data of the users’ actions during the session to measure their degree of on-screen interactions.

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