New publication by Cristel A. Russell, EURIAS fellow 2017-2018


'Sensation Seeking Moderates Television's Cultivation of Alcohol and Tobacco Beliefs: Evidence from a National Study of French Adolescents'

Cristel A. Russell

Drug and Alcohol Dependence, vol. 186, 1 May 2018, pp. 193-200






Television (TV) is a key socialization agent, especially amongst youth. According to cultivation theory, youth heavily exposed to TV content, where positive images of smoking and drinking abound, should hold more positive beliefs concerning drinking and smoking outcomes. This research investigates the role of the sensation-seeking personality trait in moderating this TV cultivation effect.



A French national research company contacted its panel members with children aged 13–17. Parents completed a short survey and were asked for consent for their child to participate in a study. The children were then contacted, informed, and asked for assent. Assenters completed a survey that included measures of TV exposure, personality traits, drinking and smoking behaviours, and beliefs about the outcomes associated with drinking and smoking (expectancies). Parental drinking, smoking, and strictness were included as controls.



Survey data from 1040 adolescents (54.2% males) and their parents reveal that the relationship between cumulative TV exposure and drinking and smoking behaviour, mediated through expectancies, is strongest amongst high sensation seeking adolescents. The moderated mediation analysis shows that sensation seeking trait moderates the relationship between TV exposure and the beliefs adolescents hold about the consequences of alcohol and tobacco use, which themselves are related to greater likelihood to engage in substance use.



Key personality traits and TV exposure levels must be accounted for to identify youth at risk of using substances at a time when many lifelong maladaptive behaviours and beliefs form.