The paradox of realism and "authenticity" in entertainment- education: A study of adolescents' views about anti-drug abuse dramas

Nurit Guttman, Anat Gesser-Edelsburg, Moshe Israelashvili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The successful use of drama as a vehicle to influence health-related attitudes and behaviors is credited to its ability to elicit an emotional experience and identification among audience members. This study investigated the views of adolescents regarding an entertainment-education (EE) component of their school's anti-drug program - a live performance of a professionally produced anti-drug abuse drama. The analysis draws mainly on data collected from 64 focus groups, conducted in 24 schools across Israel, and open-ended responses to questionnaires administered to more than 1,700 adolescents. The adolescents were generally entertained by the anti-drug abuse drama and moved by its "authenticity," which emerged as a central construct in this study. Yet only a fraction identified with the characters and many remained unwilling to "tell" on a friend who uses drugs. Drawing on these findings, implications to EE theory and practice are discussed, particularly as they relate to the drama's perceived realism or "authenticity," and its unintended effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-141
Number of pages14
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by a research grant by the Israel Anti-Drug Authority and was initiated by Dr. Rachel Bar-Hamburger, its chief scientist, who also guided us throughout its various phases. We would also like to acknowledge the contributions of the entire research team, in particular Michal Carmi, and the comments and suggestions of the Health Communication reviewers.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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