To test our hypothesis, we created a single value representing the degree to which the presentation of the subliminal prime beer
led to a safety-related bias in participants’ RTs during the LDT, as a function of the condition to which they were assigned (fan can vs. standard can). To compute this index, we separately determined for each participant the degree to which the beer
prime affected RTs to safety and danger words, relative to RTs to these same words when they were preceded by the neutral prime. The danger facilitation score was then subtracted from the safety facilitation score to create the measure of interest, which we call the safety accessibility bias
. Higher values on this measure represent a greater bias toward responding quickly to safety-related information following the beer
prime, indicating that the beer
prime makes information related to safety more accessible than information related to danger.2
The LDT results are displayed in .3
As predicted, participants exposed to the fan can demonstrated a significantly greater safety accessibility bias on the LDT than did individuals in the standard can condition, t
(64) = 2.10, p
= .04, d
As in Experiment 1, the index representing participants’ preference for beer did not differ by condition, t
< 1 (no single items were significantly affected; all p
s > .14).
Means (and Standard Deviations) of Facilitation Scores (Neutral prime – Beer prime) for Safety- and Danger-related Words as a Function of Condition in Experiment 2.
Replicating the results of Experiment 1, these data again indicate that presentation of beer in colors associated with their university changed the way participants thought about beer in general. When subsequently encountering a subtle beer cue (i.e., the subliminal prime beer), participants were biased towards the identification of safety-related information and away from the identification of danger-related information, but only if they previously had seen the fan can. Importantly, this facilitation effect emerged even though the beer prime was presented subliminally, precluding the possibility that observed effects were due to conscious, deliberative processing. Instead, it appears that recent, prior exposure to the fan can caused participants to automatically activate safety-related information as soon as they encountered beer-related stimuli in the external environment.
In combination, the results of Experiments 1 and 2 provide good evidence for our hypothesis regarding the influence of the fan can on beer safety. The design of these studies, however, prevents us from making a strong causal conclusion. That is, the effects observed could be due simply to exposure to ingroup associated colors and may have nothing to do with the pairing of these colors with beer. In order to investigate this issue, Experiment 3 featured a fully crossed design in which we presented beer or water in either neutral or ingroup colors, permitting a stronger test of our hypothesis. In addition, Experiment 3 sought to extend the findings of the previous studies into the public health domain by embedding our beverage manipulation in an actual “party safe” public service advertisement and examining the impact of this manipulation on participants’ ratings of the safety of parties at the University of Missouri.