Comprehension of Health Risks in More and Less Arousing Affective Contexts

Decision making involves two modes of thinking, one that is cognitive (or deliberative) and another that is affective (or emotional). Little is known about how these modes interact in tobacco-related decisions or how information in tobacco communications is understood and remembered over time. This project is designed to examine the psychological mechanisms that influence comprehension as well as risk perceptions regarding tobacco products because of the central role they play in affecting quit intentions and usage. In particular, the project focuses on the potential role of affective arousal in making warnings on cigarette packs more effective and on its role in brand advertising and promotion that may make tobacco products appear less risky. By manipulating affectively arousing cues (graphic images and smoking cues) in a series of experiments, the studies in this project are designed to identify ways to maximize long-term effectiveness. Also tested will be related individual and cognitive factors that influence choices, and the effects of increased smoking-risk knowledge on ST risk perceptions and use.

FDA Research Priorities Addressed

  • How should information regarding tobacco products and tobacco use, including risk, harmful and potentially harmful constituents, new and emerging tobacco products, and potential modified-risk tobacco products be conveyed to the public so that it is understandable and not misleading?
  • What are the cognitive and affective factors (e.g., perceptions, attitudes, beliefs) associated with use of new and emerging tobacco products? How does product marketing influence behaviors related to tobacco product use?

FDA Center for Tobacco Products Research Interest Areas

Project Leadership and Staff

Project Leader

Ellen Peters, PhD 
Professor, Department of Psychology
The Ohio State University



Other Investigators

  • Elizabeth Klein, PhD, Associate Professor, College of Public Health, The Ohio State University
  • Daniel Romer, PhD, Director of the Adolescent Communication Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania

Post-doctoral Researcher

Project Staff

  • Martin Tusler, MS, Research Specialist, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University, Center of Excellence for Regulatory Tobacco Science (OSU-CERTS), is supported by grant number P50CA180908 from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products (CTP). The content in this website is solely the responsibility of OSU-CERTS and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the Food and Drug Administration.