Purpose: To investigate, using an information processing model, how persuasive media messages for alcohol use lead to concurring beliefs and behaviors among youths.
Methods: Data were collected in 2000-2001 using computer-assisted, self-administered interviews with youths aged 9-17 years (n = 652).
Results: Latent variable structural equations models showed that skepticism was negatively associated with positive affect toward alcohol portrayals and positively with the desire to emulate characters portrayed in alcohol advertisements. These, in turn, predicted expectancies and liking of/desire for beer toys and brands, which predicted alcohol use. Parental guidance decreased alcohol use directly and indirectly by lessening influences of positive affect toward advertising.
Conclusions: Media alcohol portrayals influence children's drinking through a progressive decision-making process, with its influence underestimated by typical exposure-and-effects analyses.