Background and Objectives: Because of high skin cancer risks for young women, it is vital that effective interventions reach and influence this demographic. Visual social media platforms, like Instagram, are popular with young women and are an appropriate intervention site; yet, they also host competing images idealizing tan skin. The present study tested the ability of digital sun-safety interventions to affect self-control-related emotions and visual attention to subsequent tan-ideal images as well as sun-safety attitudes. Methods: Women were recruited from a large public Mid-Atlantic university in the United States. Participants (N = 120) were randomly assigned to view an appearance benefits intervention, a self-control emotions intervention, or a control message, each designed to look like an Instagram sponsored story. After self-reporting self-compassion and anticipated pride, participants then viewed seven pairs of Instagram posts featuring either tan or pale women while an eye tracker assessed visual attention. Finally, participants self-reported their responses to questions assessing sun-safety-related norms, efficacy, and attitudes. Results: A mixed design analysis of covariance revealed that women who first viewed the appearance benefits intervention story spent less time visually fixated on Instagram images of tan women than did those who viewed the self-control emotions intervention or control message (p = 0.005, (Formula presented.) = 0.087). Regressions also revealed interactions between the intervention conditions and feelings of anticipated pride on both visual attention and sun-safety attitudes. Conclusion: Sponsored stories on Instagram can promote sun-safety attitudes, depending on the emotional responses they generate. Additionally, sponsored interventions can affect subsequent visual attention.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- cancer communication
- health campaigns
- social media