I believe psychology professor Ken Laughery was studying warning labels:
Bonus: Missy says “wake me when it’s over.”
Nearly 15 years ago this week (March 24, 2005) Rice issued this news release: https://news.rice.edu/2005/03/24/adequate-warning-labels-dont-always-ensure-consumer-compliance/
Laughery spent close to three decades investigating issues related to the labeling and warnings associated with hazardous consumer products and hazardous environments.
… he has been asked to give expert trial testimony on the design and effectiveness of warning labels for such products as automobile seat belts, air bags, kitchen appliances and, more recently, dietary supplements.
… One of the most difficult aspects of a warning label to evaluate is whether it motivates the consumer to comply with the warning, Laughery said. This was an issue in the case of dietary supplements.
“Given people’s desperation to lose weight for health and cosmetic reasons, one issue was whether a label that adequately warns about the effects of using dietary supplements with ephedra and caffeine would have resulted in a high rate of compliance,” he said.
One way to encourage compliance is to provide labels with explicit information about the risks of using a product, particularly if those risks are severe. “Simply warning that a particular product may be hazardous to your health doesn’t really tell consumers what they need or want to know,” Laughery said.
Still, even with adequate warning labels, consumer compliance can be a challenge. He said most accidents are low-probability events, and people assume ‘It won’t happen to me.’ Thus, people may not comply if they think the odds of injury or illness are low. …
… Where and how the warning is presented matters. “In today’s cars, a front passenger’s seat in the reclining position negates the effectiveness of the seat belt, but most people are unaware of this,” he said. Laughery believes it’s because the warning is in automobile owner’s manuals, which are read by only about 5 percent of car owners.
“That’s an example of how a warning’s location influences its effectiveness,” he said. “Most people we’ve surveyed use their car manual as a reference document. It’s not something they would read cover-to-cover.”
For more scientific discussion,
> Dr. Laughery led Pamela Rothstein’s Master of Arts thesis committee (May 1986 Thesis title: Designing Warning to be Read and Remembered” — https://scholarship.rice.edu/bitstream/handle/1911/13193/1328203.PDF?sequence=1)
> And he led Danielle P. Smith’s PhD thesis committee (May 2007 Thesis title: Cost and Benefits: The Role of Individual Differences and Warning Labels in Safety Decision-making” — https://scholarship.rice.edu/bitstream/handle/1911/20650/3256745.PDF?sequence=1&isAllowed=y )
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