Linda F. Alwltt Leo Burnett U.S.A.
Andrew A. Mitchell University of Toronto
Our understanding of how advertising affects consumer behavior is undergoing a dramatic transformation. Recent theoretical and methodological advances in cognitive psychology, social cognition, and artificial intelligence are largely responsible for this transformation. These advances have provided a better understanding of the information acquisition process and how information is stored in memory. Consequently, we have been able to incorporate memory, the processing of visual information and affect into our models of advertising effects. Because of this, richer models of advertising effects are being developed, which include these psychological processes. We also have new methodologies such as the measurement of response times, that are able to provide sensitive tests of these models.
In order to obtain a better understanding of these changes, it is useful to examine the dominant model of persuasion in the early- to mid-1970s, as exemplified by the learning model proposed by McGuire ( 1968). In this model, an individual has to expend considerable effort in actively processing the information in the message and go through five basic stages before persuasion could occur. These stages are attention, comprehension, yielding, retention of message, and action. Later McGuire ( 1968) hypothesized that for a given message, there is a certain probability that each stage would occur during exposure to a message. The probability of each stage occurring is independent, so the probability that a given message would be successful is the product of the probability of the occurrence of each stage. Consequently, the likelihood is small that any message would be successful after a single exposure.