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MSU study suggests social media may influence alcohol consumption

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A new Michigan State University study suggests, if you spent time this past weekend with a beer in your hand, it may be because of something you saw on social media.

MSU researchers say when participants in a study of social media’s influence were exposed to ads touting beer, as opposed to those selling bottled water, they were more inclined to consider drinking alcohol.

They studied the behavior of 121 test subjects. They were divided into two groups. Group one was exposed to beer ads on Facebook. Group two saw ads for bottled water.

At the end of the study, the two groups were offered a choice of gift cards: one for a coffee shop, the other for a bar. 

73% of those who saw the beer ad picked the bar gift card.   A statistically smaller percentage of the water ad viewers picked the bar gift card.

Researchers say this raises questions about how influential social media can be, especially among people who are underage.

The research appears in the Journal of Interactive Advertising.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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