“Consult Your Physician Immediately If …”

The Huffington Post:

It’s difficult to turn on the TV today without seeing an advertisement for one drug or another. That’s not surprising, since drug makers spend billions of dollars each year to promote their treatments for depression, low testosterone, osteoporosis, incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and more. The ad spots are aimed not at physicians but at patients themselves.

These ads are required to list the most serious side effects for the prescription drugs they promote, and some are indeed serious — nausea and bleeding and blindness and suicidal thoughts, even death. The warnings are so dire that they must scare some consumers away, yet drug marketers continue to flood the airways.

Is that a good marketing strategy? Do consumers take these warnings seriously, and do these frightening catalogs of symptoms change their attitudes toward the drugs? Psychological scientist Ziv Carmon, of INSEAD in Singapore, has been studying the way TV viewers process product warnings — not just for drugs but for cigarettes and artificial sweeteners as well. Working with Yael Steinhart of Tel Aviv University and Yaacov Trope at NYU, Carmon has been exploring how warnings stack up against the seductive benefits that marketers hope for.

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

Wray Herbert is an author and award-winning journalist who writes two popular blogs for APS, We’re Only Human and Full Frontal Psychology.

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