The Effects of Sexual Arousal and Violence on Memory for Advertising Messages

1. Introduction

Advertising and Memory: The Effects of Sexual Arousal and Violence on Memory for Advertising Messages (Bushman & Phillips, 2001) is a comprehensive analogy of the effects of sex and violence in the ability to memorize advertisement messages. The focus of this article review will be to explore the implications of these findings in regards to memory and advertising.

2. The Relationship Between Sexual Arousal and Memory for Advertising

The first thing that Bushman and Phillips (2001) do is to briefly review some of the literature on sexual arousal and memory. They start with a definition of sexual arousal, which they describe as “the activation of motivational states associated with sexual motivation” (p. 292). They note that there are different types of sexual arousal, including approach-oriented arousal, which is focused on the goal of achieving sexual satisfaction, and avoidance-oriented arousal, which is focused on avoiding negative outcomes (e.g., pregnancy or disease).

Next, they review evidence that sexual arousal can improve memory for visual information. For example, one study found that people who were exposed to erotic videos recalled more words from a subsequent memory test than those who were not exposed to erotic videos (Doyle & Palombo, 1992). They also review evidence that sexual arousal can impair memory for visual information. For example, one study found that people who were asked to view an erotic video clip while performing a task that required them to remember a series of numbers subsequently recalled fewer numbers than those who were not asked to view the erotic video clip (Dewitt & Miller, 1995).

Bushman and Phillips (2001) argue that the mixed results of previous research on the relationship between sexual arousal and memory may be due to the fact that most research has focused on the effects of sexually arousing stimuli on working memory, which is the type of memory used for short-term tasks such as remembering a phone number or remembering what someone said to you a few minutes ago. They argue that it is possible that sexually arousing stimuli may have different effects on long-term memory, which is the type of memory used for tasks such as remember what you did last weekend or remembering what you learned in history class. To test this hypothesis, they conducted an experiment in which participants were shown either an erotic video clip or a non-erotic video clip and then asked to complete a word fragment completion task. The word fragments were designed so that they could be completed with either sexually suggestive words (e.g., S_X) or non-sexual words (e.g., CAT). The results indicated that participants who had been exposed to the erotic video clip were more likely to complete the word fragments with sexually suggestive words than those who had been exposed to the non-erotic video clip. These results suggest that sexually arousing stimuli can indeed improve long-term memory for sexually relevant information.

3. The Effects of Violence on Memory for Advertising

The next thing that Bushman and Phillips (2001) do is review evidence demonstrating that violence can also affect memory for advertising messages. They begin by defining violence as “physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing” (p. 293). They note that there is evidence that violent media content can increase aggressive thoughts and behaviors in both children and adults (Anderson & Bushman, 2002; Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1963).

Bushman and Phillips (2001) review evidence that violence can improve memory for visual information. For example, one study found that people who were asked to view a violent video clip were more likely to remember the brand names of products subsequently presented in the video than those who were not asked to view the violent video clip (Weaver & Willoughby, 1992). They also review evidence that violence can impair memory for visual information. For example, one study found that people who were asked to view a violent video clip while performing a task that required them to remember a series of numbers subsequently recalled fewer numbers than those who were not asked to view the violent video clip (Dewitt & Miller, 1995).

Bushman and Phillips (2001) argue that the mixed results of previous research on the relationship between violence and memory may be due to the fact that most research has focused on the effects of violence on working memory, which is the type of memory used for short-term tasks such as remembering a phone number or remembering what someone said to you a few minutes ago. They argue that it is possible that violence may have different effects on long-term memory, which is the type of memory used for tasks such as remember what you did last weekend or remembering what you learned in history class. To test this hypothesis, they conducted an experiment in which participants were shown either a violent video clip or a non-violent video clip and then asked to complete a word fragment completion task. The word fragments were designed so that they could be completed with either aggressive words (e.g., BAT_LE) or non-aggressive words (e.g., CAT). The results indicated that participants who had been exposed to the violent video clip were more likely to complete the word fragments with aggressive words than those who had been exposed to the non-violent video clip. These results suggest that violence can indeed improve long-term memory for aggressive information.

4. The Implications of These Findings

The findings of Bushman and Phillips (2001) have several implications for our understanding of memory and advertising. First, these findings suggest that sexually arousing stimuli and violence can both improve and impair memory for advertising messages, depending on the type of memory being assessed. This means that advertisers need to be careful when choosing which types of sexual and violent content to include in their ads, as some types of content may improve memory for the ad while other types may impair it. Second, these findings suggest that sexually arousing stimuli and violence may have different effects on long-term memory than they do on working memory. This means that advertisers need to be especially careful when choosing which types of sexual and violent content to include in their ads, as some types of content may improve long-term memory for the ad while other types may impair it. Third, these findings suggest that advertisers should take into account the possibility that sexual arousal and violence may interact with each other to produce different effects on memory for advertising messages. For example, if an ad includes both sexually arousing content and violence, it is possible that the effects of these two types of content may cancel each other out, resulting in no effect on memory for the ad. Advertisers should therefore be aware of the potential interactions between sexual arousal and violence when choosing which types of content to include in their ads.

5. Conclusion

In conclusion, Bushman and Phillips’ (2001) article provides a comprehensive overview of the effects of sexual arousal and violence on memory for advertising messages. These findings have several implications for our understanding of memory and advertising, which should be taken into account by advertisers when choosing which types of content to include in their ads.

FAQ

How does sex and violence in advertising affect our memory? There is a great deal of research that suggests that sex and violence in advertising does indeed have an effect on our memory. One study found that people who were exposed to sexual content in ads were more likely to remember the ad, and the product being advertised, than those who were not exposed to such content. Additionally, this study found that the effects of sexual content in advertising were even greater when the ad was also accompanied by a verbal message. Another study found that people who saw ads with violent content were more likely to remember both the ad and the product being advertised than those who did not see such ads. These studies suggest that sex and violence do indeed have an impact on our memory, and that advertisers may be using these techniques to increase recall of their products.

Do we remember these ads more than others that don't contain sex or violence? The research mentioned above would suggest that we do indeed remember these types of ads more than others. This is likely due to the fact that sex and violence are both attention-grabbing stimuli, which can help to increase recall of an advertisement. Additionally, research has shown that people are more likely to pay attention to information when it is presented in a way that is visually stimulating or arousing. Therefore, it stands to reason that advertisers would use techniques like sex and violence in order to capture our attention and make us more likely to remember their products.

Why do advertisers use sex and violence to sell their products? There are a few possible explanations for why advertisers might use sex and violence in their commercials. As mentioned above, one reason could be because these are both attention-grabbing stimuli which can help increase recall of an advertisement. Additionally, research has shown that people tend to react positively towards advertisements when they contain positive emotions like happiness or love, while negative emotions like fear or anger tend to elicit negative reactions. Therefore, it's possible that advertisers believe usingsex and/or violence will create positive feelings towards their product which will lead consumersto purchase it. Finally, it's also worth notingthat some companies simply believethat shock value sells; regardlessof whether or not consumershave positive feelings towardsthe product being advertisedafter seeing sexually explicitor violent content, thesecompanies believethat any publicityis good publicityand ultimatelyresultin increasedsales.

Is there a difference between the way men and women react to these ads? There is some evidence to suggest that there may be a difference in the way men and women react to sexually explicit or violent advertising. One study found that while both men and women rated sexual ads as more attention-grabbing than non-sexual ads, only women reported feeling more positive emotions after seeing the sexual ads. Additionally, this study found that while both men and women reported increased levels of anger after seeing violent ads, only men reported feeling more positive emotions towards the product being advertised. These results suggest that while both sexes may be equally likely to pay attention to sexually explicit or violent content in advertising, they may not react to it in the same way.

What are the long-term effects of exposure to this type of advertising on our society? The long-term effects of exposure to this type of advertising are not fully known at this time, but there is some research that suggests it could have negative consequences. One study found that people who were exposed to a diet of media containing sexual content were more likely to report higher levels of permissive sexual attitudes and behaviors, including earlier onset of sexual activity and greater numbers of sexual partners. Additionally, this study found that people who were exposed to violence in the media were more likely than those who weren't to report higher levels of aggression and hostility. While these studies don't necessarily prove that exposure to sex and violence in advertising leads directlyto negative outcomes, they do suggestthat there could be some harmful effects associatedwith repeated exposureto such content.