The expected and unexpected media effects on youth’s (mis)perceptions of peer norms : Chinese college students’ overestimation of peer smoking prevalence

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-133
Journal / PublicationChinese Journal of Communication
Volume10
Issue number2
Online published5 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Abstract

Youth’s perceptions of peer norms have profound effects on their attitudes and behaviors. Unfortunately, their perceptions of peers tend to be biased. To investigate the role of media in the formation of misperceived peer norms, the current study tested and compared two media-effect mechanisms: the direct exemplar mechanism and the indirect influence of presumed influence (IPI) mechanism. The two mechanisms were tested in a sample (n = 1746) that is representative of college students in one large university in China, based on which the actual and perceived campus smoking rates were examined. The individual-level perceived peer smoking prevalence was then analyzed in comparison with the campus-level actual smoking prevalence. The results revealed serious overestimations of peer smoking prevalence. As predicted, pro-smoking media content significantly heightened smoking prevalence estimates through both exemplar and IPI mechanisms. In contrast, anti-smoking messages did not elicit any intended effect through the IPI mechanism, but showed a boomerang effect through the exemplar mechanism. These findings suggest that both pro- and anti-smoking media content may be responsible for inflated perceptions of peer smoking among youth.

Research Area(s)

  • China, exemplar effect, influence of presumed influence, misperceptions, peer norms, smoking

Citation Format(s)

The expected and unexpected media effects on youth’s (mis)perceptions of peer norms: Chinese college students’ overestimation of peer smoking prevalence. / Wang, Mena N.; Jiang, Crystal L.
In: Chinese Journal of Communication, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2017, p. 115-133.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review