Psychological Processes and Advertising Effects: Theory, Research, and Applications

By Linda F. Alwitt; Andrew A. Mitchell | Go to book overview

3
The Influence of Affective
Reactions to Advertising:
Direct and Indirect
Mechanisms of Attitude
Change

Danny L. Moore J. Wesley Hutchinson University of Florida


INTRODUCTION

The influence of affective reactions to advertising on consumer response is a recurring topic in advertising research. Perhaps the major reason for interest in this area is the common belief that consumers' general liking for an advertisement influences their attitudes toward the advertised product, purchase intentions, and eventual brand choices. The intuitive hypothesis advanced by many researchers is that pleasant, well-liked ads elicit more favorable reactions toward the product than unpleasant or irritating ads ( Shimp, 1981). Explanations of the hypothesized positive relationship between the valance of affective reactions and brand attitude range from motivational theories to conditioning hypotheses ( Gorn, 1982; Mitchell & Olson, 1981; Shimp, 1981). The common thread uniting these speculations is that the affect or feeling evoked by an ad is assumed to transfer directly to the advertised product.

Silk and Vavra ( 1974), in a review of early research, discuss the potential indirect effects of liking for an ad. They note that data collected by Schwerin in the 1940's revealed a J-shaped function between consumer response and ad affect. Both pleasant and unpleasant ads elicited higher response rates to a request than neutral, matter-of-fact ads. This finding suggested that the relative intensity of affective reactions may be more important for predicting consumer response than the valence of the reaction. The logic underlying this "law of extremes" hypothesis seems to hinge on two assumptions. First, affectively extreme ads are assumed to capture more attention than affectively neutral ads. This, in turn, should enhance memory for the informational

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