Do dissonant ad visuals cause consumers to discount prescription drug side effects?

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© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. In most video-based advertising, visuals reinforce the ads’ verbal messages. This use of redundant images, however, is often not the case in television commercials for prescription drugs. These ads frequently employ dissonant visuals, or pleasant images, during the narration of the drugs’ negative side effects. This visual-verbal inconsistency could adversely impact consumers’ interpretation and decision-making about the drugs. Through an empirical investigation, this study found that consumers attribute significantly more positive affect and lower risk to prescription drug ads that employ dissonant visuals versus redundant ones. Such findings challenge the ethicality of these pervasive and influential health messages.

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