Publication of Pathos & Ethos: Emotions and Willingness to Pay for Tobacco Products

December 1, 2015

We are pleased to announce that the first article related to the “Study on Tobacco Labelling and Packaging” has been published in PLOS ONE and is ready for download!. This study was conducted by Open Evidence staff, London School of Economics and Block the Ideas.

The article makes use of data from a multi-country Randomized Control Trial study on the effect of anti-tobacco pictorial warnings on an individual’s emotions and behavior. By exploiting the exogenous variations of images as an instrument, the effect of emotional responses could be identified. A range of outcome variables were used, ranging from cognitive (risk perception and depth of processing) to behavioural variables (willingness to buy and willingness to pay).

The findings suggest that the odds of buying a tobacco product can be reduced by 80% if the negative affect elicited by the images increases by one standard deviation. More importantly from a public policy perspective, not all emotions behave alike, as eliciting shame, anger, or distress proves more effective in reducing smoking than fear and disgust.