Talk:US survey finds advertising contributes to increased underage drinking

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Hi. I've just read this draft, and I wanted to see if I could contribute something to this article. This topic is something of my interest, and I found the article well-written and informative, the issue quite news-worthy.

So I've read the BBC article and the actual paper's intro, method, & comment sections.

Neutrality:

I am not sure if the current presentation of the research is neutral. I thought it would merit checking with more sources. My guess would be that those closer to alcohol industry will offer counter-spins (I'm not suggesting that we should by those, of course).

I think one of the major claims is by this paper is that prior studies did not establish a causal link, whereas this study did. But is that true? By reading the BBC article, I felt the explanation why this study is so important was missing. This article, too, does not explain why the findings are not simple correlation but a causal relation. After reading the paper, I think I know what the authors meant, but I am not sure if I would agree with their characterization (due in part I am not that familiar with this research subject, no doubt). That is, this study did not rely on self-reporting in measuring the amount of exposure (it also employed the ad-dollar spent in the area as a measurement), and therefore successfully separated the effect of selective exposure/differing rates of recall - the effect of "drinkers remember alcohol ads better." It seems like that is a fair claim that they separated that particular effect. But that's the same as establishing the causal link? I don't know.

Also, I think explaining more about the role of ad expenditure in the analysis would be good.

I also wondered, alternatively, if it would be a bit more desirable to present this paper "claiming" to have found the causal link. Or am I thinking too much? (Arguably so, because if I remember neutrality guideline correctly, one important threthould of what's neutral and what's not is if the claim is accepted in a peer-reviewed journal. This article obviously passed that test, though my expectation is that that does not mean at all that the claim is widely accepted.)

And just to make clear I am not all that critical about this article, I repeat that I found this article personally interesting to me, well-written, and newswothy.

Tomos 17:54, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

tomos,
appreciate your suggestions to improve the article. to respond to the concerns you've raised:
  • yes, the article does need responses from the industry. i didn't find one in a cursory look y'day. maybe some are forthcoming. (i should point out that the article is still in development).
  • regarding "claims" of causal link, the survey conclusion is ads "contribute to" drinking. my own reading of it is that they don't claim a causal link, but show that a particular criticism of other studies is unfounded. i've reproduced the study's conclusion without adding any further qualification, as it has been peer-reviewed & published in an academic journal.
hope this helps, Doldrums 06:21, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
Hi. Thank you for your reply :) And yes, I am aware that this is in the development stage. That's partly why I thought I can contribute something.
  • Causality. I should have been clear on the issue of causality. I think you are suggesting that ad exposure is a contributing factor, not a strong determinant of drinking behavior, but one of the factors. And I agree that "contribute" is a proper word for that kind of factor.
But actually, I was thinking about a slightly different question. In my understanding, scientific studies often use the dichotomy of "correlation" and "causality." What this study found certainly seems like a correlation - ad exposure and alcohol consumption seem to occur to the same people. But is this because more ad exposure is contributing more alcohol consumption? Or is there a possibility that the more alcohol consumption leads to more ad exposure (by changing people's interests in kinds of TV programs or magazines they choose to consume)? Or are both factors shaped by another, third factor (such as urban life style leads to more media consumption (i.e. more ad exposure) & more drinking)? Or a combination of two or all of these are the case? More importantly, does this study tell any one of these three possibilities is correct and others are wrong? That was the question I was wondering. So, in that frame, if more ads "contributes" to more drinking that is a type of causal relation from exposure to behavior.
My impression was that this study did not indeed provide enough evidence such a causal link exists. As you pointed out, this study does challenge or possibly rule out some of the existing criticism in line with "more ad exposure do not contribute to more drinking." But that does not seem to lead to a conclusion "therefore more ad exposure contributes to more drinking." But I am not an expert on this, so I could well be wrong. I can think of a possibility that experts who know what other studies have found with which methods& samples would find this study very very convincing evidence of causal relation from ads to behavior.
  • Counter-spin/ criticism. I have read several news reports. But I could not find any quote from defenders of liquor ads. Is that a sign that this study is actually convincing enough even for defenders of liquor ads so that they cannot issue comments? Or is this a sign that other news outlets does not do a basic job of presenting both sides of the controversy? Again, I don't know since I am not an expert. But below is the list of sources I checked (I reorganized what I posted here earlier, with more sources added). -- Oh wait, I actually do see one such quote from "Jeff Becker, president of the Beer Institute in Washington, D.C." It's in the Adweek article. :-) I checked their web site for any press release, but found none. [1]
That's all so far. Hope it helps. Tomos 07:21, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
A small update on if any counter argument is offered regarding the study:
Though only nominally, the Beer Institute guy is quoted in Media Buyer Planner article as well. Mr. Becker questions if causal link is established by the study.
Portman Group's counter-argument is in The Sun's & Time's articles. Telegraph, and Dayly Mail [2] cited it, too, if I remember correct. The argument is that the US study does not apply to UK, because UK has different regulatory environment for ads, and ads do not target underage population.
So perhaps these are common couter-arguments.
I gotta go now.. Sorry to be hasty. Tomos 07:51, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

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