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Hue Trong Duong:

Jiaying Liu:

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Background: Research has documented the impact of descriptive norms on tobacco use, but few studies have investigated how media exposure shapes e-cigarette use norms.

Purpose: To examine how exposure to e-cigarette related news articles shapes individuals’ descriptive norm perceptions about real-world e-cigarette use.

Method: The study implemented an experiment with 2 normative direction (high- vs. low-prevalence) x 2 exposure dosage (single- vs. double-dose) between-subject factorial design (N = 298). Analysis of variance and thematic analysis were conducted.

Results: Normative direction and exposure dosage of prevalence information contained in the news articles interacted to influence perceived descriptive norms. Increasing the dosage of prevalence information enhanced descriptive norm perceptions in low-prevalence conditions only. Participants relied on institutional signals and behavioral cues to infer descriptive norms when prevalence information was absent in the news.

Discussion. The study investigates the underlying mechanism of how news articles may influence normative perceptions.

Translation to Health Educational Practice. Given that news media may inadvertently form social norms that are conducive to e-cigarette use behavior, Health Educators should pay attention to descriptive norms emanated from news media environment. They should also consider norm debiasing strategies and the integration of dosage of low-prevalence information into social norm messages.


Author accepted manuscript version of an article published my Taylor & Francis in:

Hue Trong Duong & Jiaying Liu (2019) Vaping in the News: The Influence of News Exposure on Perceived e-Cigarette Use Norms, American Journal of Health Education, 50:1, 25-39, DOI:


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