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EFFECTIVENESS OF WARNING LABELS

NEWSLETTER ARTICLE

Warning labels, what would life be without them? Millions of dollars have been awarded by juries because of non-existent or ineffective warnings. Previous research has shown that pictorial warning labels meant to warn children can actually cause the children to play with the product. Research has also shown that consumers perceive products to be more effective as the products’ warning label salience increases.

One recent study (Human Factors, 29(5), p.p.599-612), examined several factors that influence the effectiveness of warnings. Two rating experiments indicated that for greatest perceived effectiveness, a warning should be placed before the instructions rather than after. The study also indicated that for greatest perceived effectiveness, the warnings should include a signal word (such as DANGER, WARNING, CAUTION), plus hazards, consequences and instructions. One additional finding was that informative, non-redundant statements add to a warning's perceived effectiveness.

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