Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Buyer beware: Advertising may seduce your brain, researchers say

Date:
September 21, 2011
Source:
University of California - Los Angeles
Summary:
Researchers have found that certain types of subtle advertisements reduce activity in the decision-making areas of the brain, suggesting that some ads seduce, rather than persuade, consumers to buy their products.

Are you wooed by advertising? Of course you are. After all, it's one thing to go out and buy a new washing machine after the old one exploded, quite another to impulse-buy that 246-inch flat screen TV that just maybe, in hindsight, you didn't really need.

Related Articles


Advertisers come at you in two ways. There is the just-the-facts type of ad, called "logical persuasion," or LP ("This car gets 42 miles to the gallon"), and then there is the ad that circumvents conscious awareness, called "non-rational influence," or NI (a pretty woman, say, draped over a car).

Despite research surrounding the notion of neuromaketing, which studies consumers' cognitive responses to marketing stimuli, the impact on brain function of these types of real-world advertisements was unknown. Now, researchers at UCLA and George Washington University have shown that different types of advertisements evoke different levels of brain activity, depending on whether they use elements of logical persuasion or non-rational influence.

Reporting in the current online edition of the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, Dr. Ian Cook, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, and colleagues found that brain regions involved in decision-making and emotional processing were more active when individuals viewed ads that used logical persuasion than when they viewed ads that used non-rational influence. These brain regions help us inhibit our responses to certain stimuli.

In other words, "Watch your brain and watch your wallet," Cook said. "These results suggest that the lower levels of brain activity from ads employing NI images could lead to less behavioral inhibition, which could translate to less restraint when it comes to buying products depicted in the NI advertisements."

In the study, 24 healthy adults -- 11 women and 13 men -- viewed advertising images while electrical activity in their brains was recorded using electroencephalography (EEG). Each participant was shown 24 ads that had appeared in magazines and newspapers.

Ads using LP images included a table of facts and figures about cigarette products, details about how to build a better toothbrush and suggestions about selecting food for dogs on the basis of their activity level. In contrast, sample NI-type advertisements included beading water (liquor ad), an image of an attractive woman standing with legs apart (jeans ad) and a woman leapfrogging over a fire hydrant erupting with a water spray as a man enthusiastically grins behind her (cigarette ad).

The researchers found that viewing LP images was consistently linked with significantly higher activity levels in the orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate regions, the amygdala, and the hippocampus, all areas of the brain involved in decision-making and/or emotional processing.

The finding reinforces the hypothesis that preferences for purchasing goods and services may be shaped by many factors, including advertisements presenting logical, persuasive information and those employing images or text that may modify behavior without requiring conscious recognition of a message.

"Because the results showed that in response to non-rational sensory inputs, activity was lower in areas of the brain that help us inhibit responses to stimuli," said Cook, "the findings support the conjecture that some advertisers wish to seduce, rather than persuade, consumers to buy their products."

Other authors of the study included Sarah K. Pajot, David Schairer and Andrew F. Leuchter, all of UCLA, and Clay Warren, of George Washington University. Funding was provided by the International Consciousness Research Laboratories consortium. The authors report no conflict of interest.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles. The original article was written by Mark Wheeler. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ian A. Cook, Clay Warren, Sarah K. Pajot, David Schairer, Andrew F. Leuchter. Regional brain activation with advertising images.. Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, 2011; 4 (3): 147 DOI: 10.1037/a0024809

Cite This Page:

University of California - Los Angeles. "Buyer beware: Advertising may seduce your brain, researchers say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110920163318.htm>.
University of California - Los Angeles. (2011, September 21). Buyer beware: Advertising may seduce your brain, researchers say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110920163318.htm
University of California - Los Angeles. "Buyer beware: Advertising may seduce your brain, researchers say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110920163318.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins