Expectancy Theory Approaches to Prevention:
Violating Adolescent Expectations to Increase the
Effectiveness of Public Service Announcements
Jason T. Siegel and Judee K. Burgoon
University of Arizona
The facts are these: In 1999, more than ll million Americans used marijuana (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 1999). Almost half of all high schools students surveyed used marijuana on at least one occasion, and more than 25% of high school students who were questioned reported using marijuana 30 days prior to being surveyed (Kann et al., 2000). Illicit drug use costs taxpayers upward of $110 billion a year (Harwood, Fountain, & Livermore, 1998). In addition to impairing cognitive functioning, marijuana use is associated with increased risk of dropping out of high school, driving under the influence, engaging in crime, and destroying property. And, it is linked to chronic bronchitis and reproductive system problems (Block, Famham, Braverman, & Noyes, 1990; Brey, Zarkin, Ringwalt, & Qi., 2000; Brook, Balka, & Whiteman, 1991; Ellickson, Bui, Bell, & McGuigan, 1998; Nahas & Latour, 1992; Osgood, Johnston, O'Malley, & Bachman, 1988; Polen et al., 1993; SAMHSA, 1998a, 1998b; Spunt, Goldstein, & Fendrich, 1994, Tashkin et al., 1990; Tommasello, 1982; Yamada, Kendix, & Yamada, 1996;).
The goal is simple: Persuade people not to do drugs. Seems easy enough in principle. Unfortunately, even with $3 billion being spent by the Partnership for a Drug- Free America on media time alone, the amount of people who use illegal substances is not decreasing. As discussed throughout this volume, the utilization of theory-driven campaigns must be considered if public service announcements (PSAs) are going to be a worthwhile force in the war on drugs. As stated by OKeefe and Reid (1990), “Centering a campaign around a theoretical approach not only