Prof Wins Grant to Study Effectiveness of Anti-Gambling Ads

October 23, 2012 - News Release

Prof. Sunghwan Yi, Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies, will use a $49,000 grant from the Manitoba Gambling Research Program to investigate how advertisements spark positive and negative expectations of gambling among gamblers.

In two studies spanning nearly a year in all, he will work with investigators from Dalhousie University and the University of Manitoba. They will undertake controlled experiments with frequent gamblers to see how they process pro-gambling messages such as casino ads and anti-gambling messages such as responsible gambling ads.

“Our first study examines the possibility that, even when gamblers are exposed to casino ads for less than one second, these ads trigger positive expectations about gambling based on their positive past gambling experiences, although they may not be aware of it,” Yi said.

“In the second study, we investigate the possibility that a really brief exposure to well-intentioned anti-gambling messages may also activate positive rather than negative expectations about gambling.”

Attentive viewing of responsible gambling messages may strengthen a person’s conscious negative expectations about outcomes, says Yi. But brief exposure to these messages may inadvertently lead someone to pick up words and visual cues that automatically trigger implicit positive outcome expectations.

“Explicit gambling outcome expectancies” (GOEs) are those consciously aroused in gamblers. “Implicit GOEs” are almost automatically triggered by very brief exposure to related cues and are not always consciously experienced by gamblers.

“Together, the set of studies will enhance our understanding of how implicit GOEs vis-à-vis explicit GOEs are activated when gamblers are exposed to pro- and anti-gambling messages for a very brief time versus for a long time.”

Yi says previous research has ignored the possibility that brief exposure to gambling messages is the norm rather than the exception. Amid ubiquitous ads and other marketing materials neither type of message stands out, and so they do not often capture prolonged attention.

The project results may help in designing responsible gambling ads and in developing policies on allowable forms of advertising for casino gambling, online gambling sites and lotteries.

“Considering that exposure to pro- and anti-gambling messages is so limited, our findings will shed light on how to minimize the automatic activation of positive implicit GOEs upon exposure to both types of gambling-related ads,” said Yi.

Yi's interview on CBC’s Ontario Morning program Oct. 24 is available as a podcast.

Trained in consumer psychology and social cognition, Yi has expanded his research interests in gambling and excessive buying behaviour. His recent paper, “Shame-Proneness as a Risk Factor of Compulsive Buying” appears in the Journal of Consumer Policy.

Prof. Sunghwan Yi
Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies
University of Guelph
519-824-4120, Ext. 52416

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