A / AS Level Psychology - 2a - Persuasiveness of Television Advertising

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Explanations for the Persuasiveness of Television Advertising


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Examining what advertisers do to persuade people to buy products and applying the knowledge ď‚— Good or poor advertising can make or break a product

ď‚— Effectiveness of TV advertising can be summarised in terms

of influence based on the behavioural and cognitive approaches


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Persuasion through the behavioural route  Images and stories repeatedly presented with product

which create a positive feeling in the viewer.  Positive feelings and product stimulate good feelings which will be triggered when seen, for example in supermarket.  A variety of techniques used to encourage associations, e.g. Well liked or new music, celebrities. (give examples)


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One most common technique used by advertisers is classical conditioning Image, music, etc (US)

Warm or positive feeling (UR)

Product (NS)


Image, music, etc (US)

Warm or positive feeling (UR)

Product (CS)

Warm or positive feeling (CR)

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Advertisers also use principles of Social Learning Theory  Celebrities shown modelling product. Therefore people

will imitate people they admire and therefore desire the product.  Imitation applies to all age groups  What changes over a lifetime is our susceptibility to being impressed and the kind of model we want to imitate.


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Social Learning predicts:  The impact of the model varies according to prestige,

credibility and attractiveness.  We are more likely to be convinced by a chef selling kitchen equipment than if they are selling a car.  It is not enough to be famous, models must fit the product they are selling, for maximum persuasive influence.


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Do They fit the product? David Beckham Cheryl Cole



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Evaluation  The behavioural perspective focuses on how the environment takes control

over our learning.We can see this in Bandura’ s social learning theory as well as classical conditioning and operant conditioning.  In classical conditioning we see how the positive stimulus (images) from the advertisements can trigger feelings increasing the likelihood of buying. And in operant conditioning we see how we are likely to do certain behaviours depending on its outcomes.


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ď‚— However because this perspective concentrates too much on analysing what

we can see from the outside, It ignores the mental processes that are central to human behaviour ď‚— On the other hand we could also argue that many of the experimental methods that are used in the research of the learning perspective are based on animal research so we cannot generalise the same results that we get for a rat the same for a human. ď‚— The behavioural approach tends to be too reductionist and simplistic to explain on its own the complexities of how television may be used in persuasive advertising. It does not take into account our reasoning and intellect.


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Persuasion through the cognitive route makes up for what is lacking in the behavioural approach

ď‚— In order for persuasive information to be processed,

there is the need for advertisers to attract the attention of viewers in order to manipulate them. ď‚— The problem is that attention is selective. People pick and choose what they wish to invest mental effort into.


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Aural cues: The right music is important : Catchy tunes are easy to remember and readily associated with a product. Visual cues: Colours are important. Gorn et al (1977) found people preferred pastel colours relaxing. Rich tones stimulated and created excitement. Visual images require less mental effort to process and associate with the product. Adverts aimed at children use cartoon figures to sell cereals.


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Some factors influencing whether or not people attend to information in television adverts: Prominence: The order in which adverts make their appearance is important. Those which use a new technique for the first time e.g. A gorilla playing drums, can grab attention, before others copy. So the first advertisement with the new technique will be most remembered.

Relevance: If not interested in the product, viewers attend to context, therefore product must stand out

Affect: Pleasant information increases attention; also unpleasant irritating soundtrack has an effect

Surprise: Memory for the unusual can last for long time

The goal of advertising is to persuade the viewer to take action and buy the product  Central to this is the formation of long term memory  Therefore advertisers must create strong, clear, positive messages.  Research shows that adverts are prone to competitive interference.  Memories for ads can be affected by adverts selling similar products.  Kent and Allen (1994) found there were no interference effects for already familiar  

 


products when exposed to competition from other familiar and unfamiliar ones. Competitive interference seems to be a problem particular to unfamiliar products and brands. Repetition is used by advertisers to aid memory. Advertisers attempt to improve product memory by varying how they advertise the products. It was found that people remembered an unfamiliar brand more if the ad was varied, rather than the same one being repeated. A Foster 2014

Evaluation  The cognitive explanation makes up for what the behavioural lacks.

People do not respond to all stimulus and it outlines some of those important aspects which influence the persuasiveness of advertisements.  A strength of the cognitive approach may be demonstrated by McGuire’s Theory based on the Hovland-Yale Model. Maguire (1969) argued that an effective advertisement is one that has successfully passed through a decision making process;‘decision tree’ and a consumer ends up purchasing the product


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 Exposure to ad

The decision making tree consists of the following points:

If at every stage of decision-making a consumer says yes then they will buy. This means the advertisement has been successful. The role of the advertiser is to maximise the likelihood of a yes decision

However if at any stage a consumer says no the advertisement has failed to be persuasive. 14

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• Attention. Consumer watches the ad • Comprehension: ad is understood • Yielding: agreeing with the message • Retention: package design used to aid memory • Decision to buy

ď‚— The cognitive approach also looks at the sociocultural aspects of

persuasiveness of television advertising. ď‚— For example how children process information based on cartoon characters


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The Power of Advertising

ď‚—Advertising, Cultural Stereotypes, and Social Behavior


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