Friends, Costa and ER - these are all televisionseries that you might be familiar with. What you probably are not aware of is that incorporated in each of these series is information on what is and what is not good for one’s health. Take Joey from Friends, for example, when he discovers that condoms are only 99% reliable. This is not mentioned at random, this is called entertainment education; an alternative to the traditional commercials designed to communicate on things such as the destructive impact of drinking.
Roes, a drama-series by VPRO, was also made with this same aim in mind; to instigate contemplation among viewers on the impact of drinking too much alcohol. My supervisor at the university was involved in the evaluation of this drama-series. It turned out that this approach to behavioral change did in fact have effect and was thus quite successful. I found this so interesting that in my thesis I did research on how it might be that this series actually has effect. We looked at a certain episode, written for young girls, in which drinking too much alcohol led to a girl being raped. Obviously quite a shocking story. With that we also investigated how girls aged between 17 and 20 years of age perceived this episode: were they really into the story... did they empathize with the main character? We also looked into the effect of their empathy on their notions about heavy drinking.
In the research I was free to set things up as I pleased. My supervisor helped me continuously to narrow things down and to gain interesting results from my data. The level of independence was good and I felt free to undergo the experience of what it is to really do scientific research.
At the same time it was really nice to have a second supervisor from within my own discipline, which is food and health. An epidemiologist with an entirely different set of notions and ideas concerning the research as a whole. This made it fun to combine differing views from the varying disciplines. A real challenge!