The effectiveness of warning labels for consumers: A meta-analytic investigation into their underlying process and contingencies

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Journal Article
Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, 2017, 36 (1), pp. 36 - 53
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© 2017, American Marketing Association. Although several meta-analyses have been conducted on the effectiveness of warning labels, many questions regarding their effectiveness remain unanswered. The authors identify 243 effect sizes from 66 primary articles, more than three times the number of effect sizes included in the most comprehensive metaanalysis to date. This updated and substantially larger data set shows that label effectiveness is contingent on the type of expected behavioral outcome. Labels aimed at moderation/cessation display a generally diminishing cascade of effects from attention (r=.32), comprehension (r=.37), recall (r=.31), judgment (r =.22), and behavior (r =.18). Labels targeting safe use show stronger effect sizes for behavior (r=.39) despite displaying a downward trend for attention (r=.35), comprehension (r=.29), recall (r=.32), and judgment (r=.21). The authors also find evidence of increased effectiveness when preactivating the label by means of an integrated communication strategy (r=.49). In addition, the results show the impact of several contextual factors (e.g., social influence [r-.33] and exposure frequency [r =.12]).
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