Moral literacy, advertising, advertising formats, secondary education, adolescence, qualitative techniques, quantitative techniques, tablet devices


Minors are daily confronted with advertisements, which are occasionally controversial. In order to promote adolescents’ moral advertising literacy, this intervention study explores how to stimulate secondary education students’ knowledge on advertising law and their moral judgement of advertisements. Because a lot of new ?especially online? advertising formats have arisen during the last years, 191 students from 12 classes were randomly assigned to either a no tablet condition or a tablet condition (to raise authenticity of learning material). The results show that students who use tablet devices perform less well on a post-test about advertising law. Regarding adolescents’ moral judgement of advertisements, thematic analyses reveal that especially the use of nudity and feminine beauty are labelled as contentious in both conditions, because of, inter alia, the negative effects for adolescent girls’ self-image and the desire to lose weight. After the intervention, the tablet condition has proven to be more effective in promoting critical thinking about nudity/feminine beauty in advertisements. However, none of the conditions did provide evidence that a critical attitude towards alcohol advertising is encouraged. In this regard, implications for future research in the context of advertising literacy education are discussed.


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This work has no financial support


Technical information

Received: 20-12-2016

Revised: 24-01-2017

Accepted: 13-03-2017

OnlineFirst: 15-05-2017

Publication date: 01-07-2017

Article revision time: 35 days | Average time revision issue 52: 36 days

Article acceptance time: 83 days | Average time of acceptance issue 52: 95 days

Preprint editing time: 147 days | Average editing time preprint issue 52: 160 days

Article editing time: 192 days | Average editing time issue 52: 205 days


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Cites in Web of Science

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Adams, B., Schellens, T., & Valcke, M. (2017). Promoting adolescents’ moral advertising literacy in Secondary Education. [Fomentando la alfabetización ética de los adolescentes en publicidad en Educación Secundaria]. Comunicar, 52, 93-103.



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