Journal of Business Ethics
This study is rooted in the research traditions of cultivation theory, construct accessibility, and availability heuristic. Based on a survey with 221 subjects, this study finds that familiarity with direct-to-consumer (DTC) print advertisements for antidepressant brands is associated with inflated perceptions of the prevalence and lifetime risk of depression. The study concludes that DTC advertising potentially has significant effects on perceptions of depression prevalence and risk. Interpersonal experiences with depression coupled with DTC advertising appear to significantly predict individuals' perceived lifetime risk of depression. The study ultimately demonstrates that DTC advertising may play a role in constructing social reality of diseases and medicine. The findings strongly suggest that the social cognitive effects of DTC advertising are far-reaching, impacting pharmaceutical marketing strategy as well as presenting issues regarding public health and the business ethics of advertising drugs to consumers.