Assessing prosocial message effectiveness: effects of message quality, production quality, and persuasiveness

J Health Commun. 1999 Jul-Sep;4(3):195-210. doi: 10.1080/108107399126913.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether the effectiveness of prosocial messages is compromised by poor design. A receiver-oriented content analysis (N = 246) was used to assess college students' perceptions of the message quality, production quality, and persuasiveness of advertisements and prosocial advertisements regarding alcohol. After providing background information, respondents rated a series of video clips on a variety of criteria guided by the Message Interpretation Process (MIP) model. Results indicated that prosocial advertisements were rated as higher in quality than were commercial advertisements overall and on logic-based criteria, but prosocial advertisements nevertheless had weaker relationships to viewers' beliefs and reported behaviors relevant to drinking alcohol. Heavier drinkers rated commercial advertisements more positively than did lighter/nondrinkers. They were less skeptical of persuasive messages and rated prosocial advertisements lower in effectiveness and commercial advertisements higher in effectiveness.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Advertising / methods*
  • Advertising / standards
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Persuasive Communication*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Social Conformity