"The existence of a remedy could suggest to these consumers that the risk is manageable," explain Lisa E. Bolton (University of Pennsylvania), Joel B. Cohen (University of Florida), and Paul N. Bloom (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).
"Put simply, the remedy may take some of the risk out of risky behavior."
Notably, remedies are not perceived this way by the consumers who are not attracted to risky behaviors in the first place. According to the study - the first to investigate remedies as a class of products with implications for risk perception - these consumers see remedies as further evidence that the behaviors are risky and should be avoided. It is the consumers most at risk or in need of help who are most harmed by remedy marketing.
"Ironically, remedy messages boomerang on the people they are intended to help the most," say the authors. "[This is] a serious problem for individuals and at a societal level."
Lisa E. Bolton, Joel B. Cohen, and Paul N. Bloom. "Does Marketing Products as Remedies Create 'Get out of Jail Free Cards'?" Journal of Consumer Research. June 2006.