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Media and Psychology Seminar

Posted by Garrett Bergquist on September 11, 2008

Next time you see an advertisement you think is dumb, don’t be so quick to judge. The psychology behind advertising is amazingly complex. I attended a very interesting seminar on media and how the brain reacts to it. Researchers use a series of sensors, like with a polygraph, to observe the human body’s reaction to various forms of media. Their findings were pretty interesting. For example, they found that the best anti-smoking ads have a high disgust factor but a low fear factor. The best political ads are slow and do not attack the opposing candidate. The biggest indicator in both these tests was heart rate. Apparently, as we concentrate harder, the heart slows down so extraneous functions are suppressed. This gives us more energy with which to concentrate. Heart rates were lowest for the two kinds of ads which I just mentioned. This could be of great value when preparing an ad or a news package. The reason is our brains are wired to respond to real-world scenarios, not media. As a result, even when we are viewing a movie or an ad, we subconsciously treat it as a real-life situation. There is now research underway to add smells to ads, a major plus for restaurants. It would further fool the brain into making decisions for a real-world situation when in fact it’s just an ad.

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