Potential Consumer Research Contributions to Combating Drinking and Driving Problems

ABSTRACT - Social change strategies suggested by Sheth and Frazier (1982) are used as a framework for this paper on the drinking and driving problem. For each type of strategy, examples of strategies being used are given, their effectiveness examined, their theoretical basis identified and research suggestions made.


Laurel A. Hudson and Paul N. Bloom (1984) ,"Potential Consumer Research Contributions to Combating Drinking and Driving Problems", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 11, eds. Thomas C. Kinnear, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 676-681.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 11, 1984      Pages 676-681


Laurel A. Hudson, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Paul N. Bloom, University of Maryland


Social change strategies suggested by Sheth and Frazier (1982) are used as a framework for this paper on the drinking and driving problem. For each type of strategy, examples of strategies being used are given, their effectiveness examined, their theoretical basis identified and research suggestions made.


The study of alcohol-related problems has drawn the attention of numerous researchers from a diverse set of disciplines. However, consumer researchers have not shown very much interest in this area of inquiry. This is unfortunate, in our opinion, since we feel that consumer researchers could contribute much to the alcohol-problems field by conducting needed studies on subjects like the effects of various advertising, pricing, distribution, and packaging strategies on alcohol-beverage consumers.

The session for which this paper serves as the lead-of f presentation was organized in the hope of stimulating more consumer researchers to contribute to the body of knowledge on alcohol-related problems. This paper, specifically, suggests several avenues where consumer researchers could make contributions toward the resolution of an alcohol-related problem that has received considerable discussion recently -- the problem of drinking and driving.

Our approach involves identifying how theory and previous research might be tested and extended to provide insights on how to improve the effectiveness of eight different types of social-change strategies that have been employed against drinking and driving. The eight types of social-change strategies (Sheth and Frazier 1982) are:

1. Informing and Education

2. Persuasion and Propaganda

3. Social Controls

4. Delivery Systems

5. Economic Incentives

6. Economic Disincentives

7. Clinical Counseling and Behavior Modification

8. Mandatory Rules and Regulations

The define each strategy, provide examples of how each has been used to combat drinking and driving problems, and suggest ideas about theories and notions that might be tested to improve the effectiveness of each strategy. Particular attention has been paid to discussing theory and research that would be compatible with work many consumer researchers have done in other areas


The first strategy category is INFORMING AND EDUCATING. Education campaigns were one of the first measures used to combat the drinking and driving problem. These strategies involve the presentation of objective information and allows the recipients of this information to process the information and draw their own conclusions. (Sheth and Frazier 1982). These rational appeals are based on two assumptions: 1) that man is rational and 2) that man will follow his rational self-interest once this is revealed to him (Chin and Benne 1969). With regard to drinking and driving, the assumption then is that individuals are not aware of the problems connected with drinking and driving. Furthermore, once the public is made aware of the serious consequences of drinking and driving they will arrive at the rational conclusion not to engage in this behavior.

Examples of strategies from this category include GM's advertisements to provide consumers information on blood alcohol concentration and a Vermont Alcohol Safety Action Project which included a control group, a group that received public information regarding drinking and driving, and a group that received both public information and a variety of other countermeasures (NHTSA 1974). One especially creative use of this strategy came from the Communication Arts Center of the University of Denver, who developed an animated film called "A Snort History" that showed the effects of alcohol on a driver's perception of risk. No words were used throughout the film, the only sound was the "blue-grass" musical background. (Mendelsohn 1973)

Many campaigns that are called educational actually fall into the PERSUASION and PROPAGANDA category since conclusions are drawn and information is often presented in a biased way. In fact it is often difficult due to the lack of adequate description to discriminate between these two categories. In addition, strategies from this category are often combined with strategies from other categories listed above.

Basically, it has been difficult to assess the effectiveness of information and education campaigns because of the lack of scientific evaluation (Blane and Hewitt 1977). Several evaluations have reported knowledge increases, but little evidence has been found that they reduce drinking and driving behavior (Cameron 1979).

There are several theories that suggest problems for strategies derived from this category. The first is information processing theory. Information processing theory points out that individuals are selective in the way they process information. They may ignore the information, misconstrue the information, and forget the information (Bauer 1964). With regard to information and education campaigns, it is thus likely that much screening out and distortion of information occurs for individuals who do not see the information as interesting or pertinent to them, who disagree with the information or who are threatened by it -- precisely those individuals who are usually the targets of social change campaigns.

Also, the information and education campaigns often do not take into account the situations individuals find themselves in or their norms, values, or social influence. Many theories point out the importance of accounting for this social environment. Self-image and impression management theories assume that an individual presents himself differently in different social situations, depending on the individuals definition of the situation. Social learning theory also emphasizes the environment (Bandura 1977). The theory is based on the propositions that most behavior is learned through the modeling of others, and the selective reinforcement of certain behavior either directly or vicariously. For example, the modeling of peers is an especially strong influence on adolescent alcohol use (Gorsuch and Butler 1973). Work by Belk (197;), Kakkar and Lutz (1981), and Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) have emphasized the importance of situations and social norms in consumer research.

Based on these thoughts, research in the following areas could provide guidance for improving information and education campaigns:

1. Studies of how various populations screen out and distort messages. If heavy-drinkers do not attend to these messages, then perhaps they should not be targeted. Or if they do attend to them but already believe drinking has dangers, then perhaps resources should be spent on other social change strategies to induce a reduction in their drinking and driving. Maybe only non-drinkers and light-drinkers should be the targets of information and education campaigns, since they may be the only ones to react rationally to them. The experience with smoking-cessation programs where most heavy smokers already believe smoking has health risks and do not respond to information and education messages -- would suggest that targeting non-drinkers and light-drinkers is appropriate (The Smoking Digest 1977).

2. Studies which test messages that try to take account of the importance of self-image, situations, and social norms in drinking behavior.

3. Studies which test innovative formats used to present information in order to overcome a great deal of public disinterest, attract attention and overcome the ennui of previous campaigns.


As mentioned above, many of the "public education" campaigns would actually fall into the PERSUASION AND PROPAGANDA category. Strategies in this category draw conclusions or present dramatic statements and use biased presentations of facts to change attitudes (Sheth and Frazier 1982). Many of these "educational" programs address the "danger of alcohol."

Examples of specific strategies used in this category include advertisements showing accidents and ambulances, a Montgomery County, Maryland, car dealers program to present the "hazards" of driving while intoxicated, billboards in St. Louis, Missouri, showing a girl killed by a drunken driver and reminding people not to drink and drive, and many Alcohol Safety Action Projects (ASAP) education programs.

Several claim that previous educational and persuasive campaigns focusing on various aspects of alcohol abuse have had little, if any, effect (Blane 1976). However, Hochheimer (1981) claims that this may be due to insufficient attention to theoretical principles of mass persuasion and social learning. He points to the Stanford Heart Disease Prevention Program as an example of an effective mass media campaign based on these principles.

Additionally, part of the effectiveness of these strategies seems to be not in influencing the person who drinks and drives, but influencing society in general to bring around a change in social values and pressures. This may be occurring in the drunk driving area as a result of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) and other similar campaigns.

Ajzen and Fishbein's (1980) theory of reasoned action proposes that first beliefs (cognitive) must occur before an attitude (affective) develops which then predicts intention and behavior (conative). PERSUASION and PROPAGANDA strategies attempt to move individuals further along in this hierarchy of effects, beyond the cognitive component to the affective component, by drawing conclusions (i.e., making an evaluation). This attempts to ensure that the conclusion drawn is the one desired by the communicator. With strategies that involve purely presenting information, there may be a greater risk that a conclusion is drawn that is undesirable to the communicator.

There exists the same concerns with regard to selective information processing and social situations as were pointed out with the INFORMING END EDUCATING category.

The following suggestions for research to help improve persuasion strategies are based on areas where research is lacking and drawn from mass media theory and social learning theory:

1. Research could be done on the effects of different message sources on different audiences. For example, the use of student peers to disseminate messages to students - which is being tried in a promising project at the University of Massachusetts (Hochheimer 1981) - could be tested more extensively.

2. Messages that advocate a specific behavior to replace the old drinking and driving pattern could be tested more extensively. Altering a person's complex behaviors necessitates learning new skills and adding to their repertoire of behaviors. Public service announcements often include incomplete or inexplicit recommendations. An example is the statement, "Friends don't let friends drive drunk." In some cases these ads also cite what a friend could or should do. The effectiveness of these versus those messages that do not suggest a behavior should be evaluated.

3. Since there is evidence that two-sided messages may be more effective than one sided (Roberts and Maccoby 1973), this type of message could be tested, especially for those audiences with higher educations.

4. Factors with regard to receivers of messages could be investigated. Factors such as education level, anxiety level, involvement, and self-esteem have been shown to influence reactions to persuasive messages. Age is an important factor with regard to alcohol education. For example, McGuire (1974) found that junior high school children are more easily persuaded by information. This research would facilitate for efficient targeting.

5. The situations that audiences are likely to find themselves in could be researched. For example, young people are likely to be in situations where they are pressured by their peers to drink and subsequently drive. Here inoculation (Roberts and Maccoby 1973) could be tested whereby young people could be forewarned of these pressures and trained to give assertive counter-arguments.

6. Importantly, research could be conducted at a more macro level to examine the impact of persuasion and propaganda on changing social values and social pressure.


As mentioned above, a common lacking of the first two types of strategies is consideration of the social environment- its norms, values, and controls. The SOCIAL CONTROLS strategy takes into account the fact that one of the reasons that desired conclusions and behavior do not always follow from the above two strategy categories is the influence of others. These strategies use direct or subtle social pressures to bring about the desired behavior (Sheth and Frazier 1982). One example of this strategy includes the S.A.D.D. (Students Against Drunk Driving) chapters where the norms of peers in the groups are emphasized to bring about conformity with regard to drinking and driving. Similarly, social service agencies often have peer groups to provide reinforcement of the new pattern of drinking behavior. The CASPAR Alcohol Education Program of Somerville, Massachusetts, hopes to reduce alcohol abuse among teenagers through the use of peers to spread information and lead group discussions. ASAP programs often use group discussions to influence individuals. There are indications that changes in attitudes toward alcohol use have resulted, however, little specific data is available yet (Hochheimer 1981).

Another example of Social Controls would involve publishing the names of individuals arrested for driving while intoxicated. This was suggested in a guide put out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (Golden). This would serve as a deterrent to others both because of the number of arrests and the social embarrassment. The guide claims that the method has been proved to work although no actual data is presented.

At a more macro level, influencing and changing cultural norms and "public knowledge" can be considered. Gusfield (1981) points out the casual and widespread existence of drinking-driving as a "normal" event in American life. This existing social environment and the resultant social influence is the starting point for this strategy. Therefore, its existence must be taken into account and evaluated by the social change planner.

As previously mentioned, social learning theory (Bandura 1977) provides a basis for these strategies. Impression Management (Goffman 1959), Self-Monitoring (Snyder 1979), and Cybernetic (Carver 1979) theories provide support for these strategies based on their premise that individuals try to meet standards, often those existing in their social environment. In addition to an attitude component, Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) also include this social influence component in their model of social behavior. Thus, attitude and social influence lead to behavior in their model.

One of the problem areas that arises with this type of strategy includes the change agent's relative lack of control over norms, the many social influences, the general acceptance of drinking and driving within our culture, and the possibility of a backlash and anti-social effect with the bringing about of social embarrassment.

Suggestions for research that could help to improve these strategies include:

1. Conduct research into the types of social situations and the norms of those situations which the targets are likely to find themselves.

2. Research the effects of targeting peer groups rather than the individuals whose behavior changes are desired. An example of this is the "Friends don't let friends drive drunk" campaign.

3. Research the effects of providing substitute peer support groups to those groups whose norms may be undesirable. An example of this might be obtaining public announcements from individuals with the desired behavior, such as was done with Brooke Shields and smoking. McGuire (1974) felt that this might add to subsequent resistance to drinking.

4. More macro level research needs to be done to examine ways of influencing social norms and values. For example, there is concern that the advertising of alcoholic beverages is influencing social norms in that it glamorizes the consumption, presents the consumers as succeeding, and presents consumption as part of social interaction. The possible influence of persuasive campaigns was mentioned previously.


With regard to Delivery Systems, strategies often have two sides since the demarketing of one behavior is advocated and the substitution of another is encouraged. On the one hand, the focus is on minimizing the accessibility problems to public services (Sheth and Frazier 1982), while on the other hand, an attempt is made to maximize accessibility problems to factors that allow for the performance of the undesired behavior. In the case of drinking and driving, it is desirable to minimize the accessibility problems to alternative forms of transportation, treatment programs, support groups, education, etc. However, it may be desirable to maximize the accessibility problems to alcohol and/or driving.

In the first instance groups such as M.A.D.D. and the alcohol beverage industry in Toronto have provided free transportation to drinkers over holidays (Reed 1981). Unfortunately, evaluation of these programs was not conducted. Alcohol education in the public schools, a convenient setting for students, is almost universal.

On the other side, attempts have been made to maximize the accessibility problems to alcohol. An example of this is restricting the drinking age. As of January 1981, fourteen states had recently raised their legal drinking ages. It has been found that when states raise their drinking age there is a corresponding decrease in fatal accidents (Williams, Zador, Harris, and Karpf 1983).

Other ways of implementing this strategy include reducing the distribution of alcoholic beverages in situations where driving is likely. Ross (1982) suggests that licensing fees be made proportional to pedestrian traffic in the area during drinking hours. He further condemns New Hampshire for locating a huge state liquor store on the main interstate linking it to Boston. Activists took action in San Francisco when they learned that ARCO Oil Company proposed an amendment to the San Francisco fire code that would allow the sale of alcoholic beverages at self-service gas stations (Council on Alcohol Policy 1983). However, again there seems to be no data available with which to evaluate this type of strategy. Another strategy related to alcohol availability is the dram shop liability whereby commercial servers share in the responsibility for a drunken driver. In California, this liability has recently been extended to social hosts serving alcoholic beverages (Maloney 1978). This may decrease the willingness of individuals to distribute alcohol.

It is also possible to try to maximize accessibility problems to cars after drinking. One suggested strategy is for detection devices in vehicles. The two major types available are either a skill tester or a breath alcohol analyzer. At present both types are capable of being circumvented. Delivery system strategies are based on exchange theory which states that a behavior will continue as long as the rewards of that behavior are greater than the costs.

A problem that may arise with these detection devices is a hostile public reaction from those who never wish to drive drunk but are annoyed by the inconvenience and added expense. A public reaction similar to what occurred with seat-belt interlock systems could emerge.

An overall problem with the delivery system strategy group is that there is frequently little conscious thought, planning or evaluation of delivery systems in social marketing.

Another major problem deals with the exchange theory bases. This is a perceptual process, thus those drinking drivers who present the greatest problem may perceive the rewards of drinking and driving to be much greater than the nonproblem consumer. Consequently, the problem consumer may be willing to put up with many more inconveniences and the lack of accessibility. This would not only mean that the behavior of the target of the strategy does not change, but that the costs of the strategy are also borne by those who are not the target.

Research could attempt to identify those costs which are perceived as high by the problem consumer and not high by the nonproblem consumer. An example of this includes raising the drinking age. This strategy impacts on the high risk target with little impact on those outside of this high risk group.

Other possible research directions include:

1. Studies evaluating the effects of free transportation programs.

2. Studies examining whether targeted drinkers feel they can overcome accessibility problems. For example, a study by Beck (1981) found that college students who drove after drinking tended to feel they could avoid being stoPPed by the police or being in an accident.

3. Studies of how drinking hours, store and bar locations, etc., affect drinking and driving.

4. Research studies could be done to gain a better picture of how the public would react to vehicle devices.


ECONOMIC INCENTIVE strategies include cost reductions as well as cash and other tangible incentives (Sheth and Frazier 1982). One proposed incentive scheme is that of reduced insurance premiums for drivers who agree not to drive after drinking. Currently, one of the conditions of this insurance is that the insured certify that he never drinks (OECD 1978). This makes the incentive available to only a very small segment of the population. To date there has been no evaluation of the effectiveness of this incentive scheme.

This strategy is again based on exchange theory. The non-drinking driving behavior will be engaged in only if the reduction in insurance premiums is perceived as outweighing the cost of this pattern of behavior or the effort to change a habit.

Problems are evident. It is likely that for many the reduction in premium would have to be considerable to make it worth not drinking and driving. Also, as with the last strategy, this may not impact on the highest risk groups. Those who do not drink anyway will perceive little cost in not drinking and driving, and consequently will be the ones most likely to receive this incentive rather than the high risk consumer. Clearly, research could be conducted to address these issues.

Some information processing questions could also be researched. First, is a decrease in a premium which occurs once a year sufficient incentive to affect a change in behavior that has multiple occurrence throughout the year? Second, can a decrease in premium be isolated from other changes in premium such that it is associated with not drinking and driving?

Improvements that could be tested would include a stronger connection between the incentive and the behavior and a more frequent reward. An example might be assessing a large fine upon a driving under the influence conviction, part of which could be refunded by the court for each month the offender did not drive while intoxicated.


ECONOMIC DISINCENTIVE strategies involve tangible punishments for performing certain behaviors (Sheth and Frazier 1982). Raising the price of alcoholic beverages either directly or indirectly through raising taxes, creates an economic disincentive. The costs associated with some consequences of drinking and driving such as increased insurance premiums, medical costs, car repair costs, loss of income, and fines may also serve as a deterrent to drinking and driving.

A comprehensive review by Ornstein (1980) found that the demand for alcoholic beverages is responsive to price. However, this elasticity may be due to drinkers without drinking problems, and other groups could have more inelastic demand. Clearly, consumer reactions to price changes deserves more research.

Ross (1982) suggests that the severity of fines should not be increased. He found that innovations that increased the severity of the punishment had little or no effect on the indicators of drinking and driving, but did have unexpected and undesired results. The more severe the penalty the more unlikely it was to not be imposed and applied. This in turn may even reduce the deterrent effectiveness of the law. Groups that monitor the enforcement of these laws such as M.A.D.D. may alleviate some of this problem

Again, exchange theory is the basis for this type of strategy. There is some indication that disincentives or punishments are not as effective as incentives or rewards. This could be an area for further research specific to driving while intoxicated. What disincentives are perceived as being too severe? Are these or have these perceptions been changing?

Research also could identify how clearly consumers perceived the connection between these disincentives and their drinking and driving behavior. Further research could identify ways that attempts are made to circumvent these disincentives and the effectiveness of these attempts.


The CLINICAL COUNSELING AND BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION strategies target a hard core of individuals. The psychiatric and therapy programs are aimed at bringing about the unlearning of socially undesirable behavior and the learning of socially desirable behavior (Sheth and Frazier 1982). In the drinking and driving area this has included programs such as driver safety schools, chemotherapy, group therapy, and individual psychotherapy.

In the 1970's a therapy-orientation developed most especially in federally funded Alcohol Safety Action Projects (ASAP's). These programs focused primarily on problem drinkers. Special efforts were made to identify problem drinkers, to handle specially these problem drinkers after arrest and conviction, and to keep these problem drinkers from driving until their drinking problem was resolved. (U. S. Department of Transportation 1970). Much of the scientific evaluation of these ASAP programs was lacking (Cameron 1979). However, it appears that rehabilitative measures may have some impact on the social drinker, little on the problem drinker (Benjamin 1980). In general, educational and therapeutic treatment is more expensive than punitive treatment and not necessarily more effective in preventing accidents (Reed 1981).

There are a multitude of theoretical bases for these rehabilitative strategies, ranging from psychoanalytic theory to stimulus response theory, depending on the theory the practitioners in the treatment regime prescribed to

One problem with the rehabilitative approach is that some research indicates a large proportion (71%-96%) of individuals involved in accidents and violations in a particular year had not had convictions in the previous year or two (Filkins, Compton, Douglass, Flora 1975). Thus, targeting the violators, even with maximum effectiveness, would leave a great majority of the safety problems unresolved.

However, there is great potential in these types of strategies due to the face-to-face relationships. It is difficult for impersonal mass media to bring about long term behavior change; more personal communication is more likely to be able to accomplish this.

Consumer research in this area could assist in identifying those targets with which personal communication is more effective than mass communications and identify those techniques that are more effective with these targets. For example, Sheth and Frazier (1982) point out that behavioral confrontation may be necessary since these targets in addition to not displaying the desired behavior, have a negative attitude toward the behavior.

Research could also be done to analyze whether these targets have the most payoff in terms of decreasing drinking and driving or if other targets are more cost effective.


The greatest number of strategies aimed at the driving drinker have come from the MANDATORY RULES AND REGULATION category. These strategies impose legal restriction on behavior; noncompliance may result in punitive measures (Sheth and Frazier 1982).

Most legislation in the United States are Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)/per se laws, which hold that driving with a BAC over a certain level is an offense per se. There is no more need to prove impairment.

These strategies have their basis in basic economic theory - utilitarian theory. Ross (1982) states that:

"It can be regarded as a restatement of the first law of demand in economics. Briefly, it proposes that the efficacy of a legal threat is a function of the perceived certainty, severity and swiftness, or celerity of punishment in the event of a violation of the law. The greater the perceived likelihood of apprehension, prosecution, conviction, and punishment the more severe the perceived eventual penalty, and the more swiftly it is perceived to be administered, the greater will be the deterrent effect of the threat." (p. 9)

Ross (1982) found that the effectiveness of law enactment and enforcement campaigns was very much impacted by the amount of publicity and media attention received. For example, the U.K. Road Safety Act of 1967 was highly controversial and newsworthy, this was followed by a statistically significant decline in drinking and driving (Ross 1973). France, the Netherlands, and Canada offer further support of this generalization (Ross 1982). On the other hand, in New Zealand where there was less publicity at the inception of legislation, less effect was achieved (Ross 1982).

However, publicity is not and cannot be continued indefinitely without leading to a diminished impact or response (Sawyer 1974) and, in fact, this seems to have occurred in most of the legal enactment/publicity cases. Reductions in the indicators of drinking and driving disappeared after a few months or years (Ross 1982). Ross (1982) suggests that the publicity led to over-exaggerated perceptions of the probability of apprehension and conviction. When this perception was found by experience not to be true or when the publicity no longer provided a reminder effect, behavior returned to pre-enactment behavior.

The greatest problems with these strategies seem to come from the perception of the certainty of apprehension. In 1978, the probability of arrest while impaired was less than 1/1,000, (Summers and Harris 1978). Thus, while the risk is there, with the consequences, the perceived likelihood of apprehension decreases the perception of the threat. Solutions to this problem are difficult since methods to bring about increased apprehension are costly and may involve a tradeoff between increased apprehension and intrusiveness on the part of law enforcement.

Another problem that may occur is that a legally mandated change in behavior, especially among adolescents, may lead to a hardening of attitudes and behavior as an act of defiance (McGuire 1974). This strategy, unaccompanied Dy appropriate persuasive communication, may do more harm than good.

The following research suggestions are made:

1. Conduct research on the perceptions of the threat of apprehension. There has been little work that examines individuals perception of this threat.

2. Conduct research that identifies ways of increasing the individual's perception of the threat of apprehension.

3. Conduct longer term studies on the impact of these laws. It may be that these laws affect habit formation and moral education and that the effects are a gradual evolution. Thus, the maintenance of a legal deterrence system may have effects on cultural norms and values.

4. Consider the policy question between the alternative of controlling alcohol use and/or controlling the consequences of motor-vehicle crashes. One focuses on trying to change behavior, the other also includes situational strategies related to making the environment safe in spite of drunk drivers. This paper has focused on controlling alcohol use and the behavior of consumers. Policy regarding the consequences of traffic crashes would encompass such situational factors as sturdier cars and safer highways. This perspective has been the basis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since its beginning (Ross 1982). However, Diane Steed, Acting Administrator, has stated that she plans to institute more balance into NHTSA with a focus not just on design, but on information and behavior modification (Steed 1983). An advantage of the focus on controlling the consequences of crashes is that it relies primarily on the development of the product through technological devices rather than on influencing individual behavior. A value issue also to be considered here, is where responsibility lies. Is the responsibility totally that of the individual who drinks and drives or does some responsibility also lie in the environment in which the individual exists? These value dimensions will be discussed by Wallack in the next paper.


It can-be seen that there are many possible contributions that consumer researchers can make to work in the area of drinking and driving. Consumer researchers have done a great deal of research in information processing, consumer learning, situational effects, social influence, attitudes, persuasion, impression management, etc., that is relevant to the problem. This research needs to be tested specifically in the drinking and driving context.

This overview further points out that one of the areas where consumer research could make a most valuable contribution is at the macro level. Research that focuses on larger social groups or culture as the unit of analysis is clearly needed. Questions that could be addressed from this type of research: What are the long term effects of legislation on social values regarding the consumption of alcohol? To what degree are our social values with regard to alcohol consumption learned through advertisements and mass media? Are social values regarding alcohol consumption and driving changing? What elements in the cultural and social environment maintain and propagate drinking and driving behavior? How can these elements be changed? Indeed, part of the reason this type research is lacking is because it is often difficult and time consuming to conduct. However, with problems of social change, there may be a point beyond which the study of individual consumer change is not adequate and larger social units must be examined.


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Laurel A. Hudson, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Paul N. Bloom, University of Maryland


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 11 | 1984

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