The First-Person Perception of Anti-drug films


Sue-Jen Lin


anti-drug films, perceived message sensational value, sensational-seeking value, first-person effect, third-person effect


Using the first- and third-person effect hypotheses, this study investigated viewers’ perceptions of the effects of anti-drug films on self and others and the perceptions’ relationship to the support for the production of the films and anti-drug attitudes and behaviors. Message desirability was determined by viewers’ drug use status, their message sensational seeking personality, and sensational values of the films. 250 participants were randomly assigned to watch films with either high or low sensational values. The results indicated that those who watched films with high sensational values were more likely to make first-person judgments, while viewers of low sensational values films made third-person judgments. Viewers with low-sensational seeking personality reported greater effects of anti-drug films on themselves than did viewers with high-sensational seeking personality. In addition to message features and audience’s personality, viewers’ drug-using behavior also influenced perceived message effects. The first-person perception level of drug non-users was significantly higher than that of drug-users. A significant relationship existed between supporting the production of anti-drug films and first-person perception level. The first- person effect was also positively associated with the likelihood to generate favorable attitudes toward anti-drug films and oppose drug use, which expands first-person behavioral domains beyond the issue of support.