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Paper on parents' misuse of prescription drugs in healthy children

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

In this new paper, Guido Mehlkop, Vanessa Bahr, Cornelia Betsch, and I present four experiments using a factorial survey design involving parents (with school-aged children) from the U.S. In these experiments, we investigated whether four important informational and normative mechanisms of social influence, namely, peer behavior/descriptive norms, definitions/injunctive norms, social control, and peer experience, affect parents’ decisions to give prescription stimulant drugs to healthy children. Given the increasing amount of related information on the Internet and the impact of the media and peers, an investigation of such information is warranted. Therefore, we also investigated whether the source of the influence (close friends and social media) serves as a moderator. Our results show that social influence plays a role in parental decision-making, but the influence depends on the mechanism and source. We found that peer behavior/descriptive norms and peer experience have effects mainly via social media. Information from social media might be perceived as sufficiently trustworthy, reliable, and persuasive. [Link to the paper]


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