Are warning labels a terrible idea?

Warning labels on violent TV shows make everyone more likely to watch them:

Warning labels on violent television programs give viewers discretionary advice and, therefore, might arouse reactance in viewers of all ages. Information labels give view- ers information but no advice and, therefore, should not arouse reactance. Five age groups were tested: 9-11 year olds, 12-14 year olds, 15-17 years olds, 18-20 year olds, and adults at least 21 years old. Participants (N 5 900) read descriptions of violent and nonviolent TV programs and rated how much they wanted to watch them. The description contained a warning label, an information label, or no label. Consistent with reactance theory, results showed that warning labels drew people of all ages to violent TV programs. Information labels did not draw viewers to violent programs.

Source: “Effects of Warning and Information Labels on Attraction to Television Violence in Viewers of Different Ages” from Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 2006, 36, 9, pp. 2073–2078.

And reading recommendation for healthy food makes us want junk food more:

choice of unhealthy food products is increased after reading recommendations for healthier alternative brands (Fitzsimmons & Lehmann, 2004).

Source: “Nonconscious relationship reactance: When significant others prime opposing goals” from Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 43 (2007) 719–726

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