Why Marketers Want To Keep You Laughing

The BPS Research Digest has a terrific piece about research suggesting that humor reduces our resistance to aggressive marketing techniques. As always, BPS's review of the research is trenchant and revealing. From the piece:

Whether it's messages on smartphone Apps or the old fashioned way on billboards, radio and TV, advertisers bombard us relentlessly. Fortunately, our brains have an inbuilt BS-detector that shields us from the onslaught - a mental phenomenon that psychologists call simply "resistance". Ads from dodgy companies, our own pre-existing preferences, and a forewarning of a marketing attack can all marshal greater psychological resistance within us. However, a new study suggests that funny adverts lower our guard, leaving us vulnerable to aggressive marketing.

Madelijn Strick and her team exposed 86 Dutch university students to pictures of 12 foreign peppermint brands, each of which appeared together with one of four types of text: funny; positive but unfunny; distracting neutral (simple maths problems); and non-distracting neutral. Crucially, before they saw the brands and text, half the students were primed to be resistant. They were told that the experiment was being conducted in collaboration with a cunning local supermarket manager who was planning to bombard university students with email and text ads, and that he was even willing to use subliminal messages to make more money.

Read the entire piece at BPS Research Digest.

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Posted on July 23, 2012 .