Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Buyer beware: Advertising may seduce your brain

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.

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.

The UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences is the home within the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA for faculty who are experts in the origins and treatment of disorders of complex human behavior. The department is part of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, a world-leading interdisciplinary research and education institute devoted to the understanding of complex human behavior and the causes and consequences of neuropsychiatric disorders.

For more news, visit the UCLA Newsroom and follow us on Twitter.

Mark Wheeler | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

3-D-printed structures shrink when heated

26.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow

26.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

First results of NSTX-U research operations

26.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>