Cognitive Effects of Advertising Repetition

Andrew A. Mitchell, Carnegie-Mellon University
Jerry C. Olson, The Pennsylvania State University
ABSTRACT - Past research on advertising is briefly reviewed and criticized for its general lack of a theoretical framework. A conceptual perspective is suggested, based upon attitude formation and information processing theory. This framework recognizes the limitations of consumers' ability to process information and directs attention toward the effects of repetition on specific cognitive elements--specifically, beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions. An experiment was conducted in which these cognitive effects were examined for two types of print advertising--explicit verbal claim vs. nonverbal image-type appeals--each over four levels of repetition. Repetition had no effect on any of the cognitive structure variables, but type of ad did. The obtained data demonstrate the usefulness of this conceptual perspective in examining advertising effectiveness issues of both practical and theoretical importance.
[ to cite ]:
Andrew A. Mitchell and Jerry C. Olson (1977) ,"Cognitive Effects of Advertising Repetition", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 04, eds. William D. Perreault, Jr., Atlanta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 213-220.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, 1977   Pages 213-220

COGNITIVE EFFECTS OF ADVERTISING REPETITION

Andrew A. Mitchell, Carnegie-Mellon University

Jerry C. Olson, The Pennsylvania State University

[This research was funded by a Research Initiation Grant to both authors from the Pennsylvania State University.]

ABSTRACT -

Past research on advertising is briefly reviewed and criticized for its general lack of a theoretical framework. A conceptual perspective is suggested, based upon attitude formation and information processing theory. This framework recognizes the limitations of consumers' ability to process information and directs attention toward the effects of repetition on specific cognitive elements--specifically, beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions. An experiment was conducted in which these cognitive effects were examined for two types of print advertising--explicit verbal claim vs. nonverbal image-type appeals--each over four levels of repetition. Repetition had no effect on any of the cognitive structure variables, but type of ad did. The obtained data demonstrate the usefulness of this conceptual perspective in examining advertising effectiveness issues of both practical and theoretical importance.

INTRODUCTION

Attempts to understand the effects of advertising repetition have been frequent in the marketing literature (e.g., Clarke, 1975; Avery, Mitchell and Winer, 1976; Sawyer, 1973, 1974; Strong, 1974). Repetition effects are not only of strong theoretical interest but are relevant to a number of important practical problems as well. For instance, marketing decisions such as the selection of media, the scheduling of advertisements, the number of different advertisements to produce, and the pretesting of advertisements are facilitated by an understanding of these effects. Public policy decision makers also need to consider repetition effects to determine, for example, the amount of corrective advertising required to eradicate the effects of a prior deception (Wilkie and Gardner, 1974).

Perhaps the value of understanding the effects of advertising repetition is illustrated most dramatically with media models (cf. Little and Lodish, 1969). In selecting among alternative media, these models require a knowledge of the marginal effect of an additional insertion in a particular media vehicle, which in turn requires an estimate of the repetition function for a particular campaign. Ray and Sawyer (1971b), demonstrated the importance of knowing the repetition function for a particular advertising campaign by showing that media models may select different media schedules when different repetition functions are used. Aaker (1975) extended the domain of media models by showing that if the repetition functions are known for alternative advertising campaigns, the same marginal principle can be used for selecting among alternative advertising campaigns and determining the advertising budget.

Although several methodologies have been used to study repetition, including econometric methods and field experiments, the need to understand these effects at the individual level, within a theoretically-sound behavioral science framework, suggests laboratory experimentation as the most promising methodological approach. However, many of the laboratory experiments on repetition phenomena appear to have been strongly influenced by the methodology and descriptive problem orientation of the communication research program begun by Hovland, Janis and Kelley (1953). Olson and Mitchell (1975) criticized this approach for its generally atheoretical perspective and failure to consider the process of creating or changing attitudes, the typical dependent variable. As a result of this basically descriptive approach to communication research, a variety of conflicting results have been produced from literally hundreds of studies. Even more seriously, this massive research effort has not yet produced a coherent theory of mass communication effects on human behavior.

Because most of the laboratory experimentation on advertising repetition has taken a similar descriptive approach, these same criticisms are appropriately directed at this marketing-oriented research. A study by Ray and Sawyer (1971a) is representative. The dependent variables in this study were recall, attitude toward the brand, and purchase intentions. The independent variables included repetition, advertising characteristics ("grabber" vs. "nongrabber" ads), audience characteristics (brand usage) and product characteristics (convenience vs. shopping goods). Unfortunately, a theoretical explanation was not provided as to how or why these selected factors, as opposed to a host of other possible factors, should be important determinants of differences in advertising repetition effects. Consequently, the generalizability of these results is limited and practical applications are difficult. In fact, Sawyer (1974), in summarizing the research findings on repetition, stated that, "Despite the great bulk of research,...the few conclusions that can be confidently drawn provide only a few hints for advertisers and other consumer researchers" (p. 30).

In contrast to this typically atheoretical approach to communication research, Olson and Mitchell (1975) suggested adoption of an alternative perspective--an attitudinal, information processing approach that focuses on the intervening cognitive factors that mediate changes in attitudes and behavioral intentions. This approach has its theoretical roots in learning theory and concentrates on information in the form of beliefs as the causal basis for attitudes (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975) and possibly choice behavior. From this conceptual perspective, the focal point of communication research becomes the information contained in an advertisement and its resulting effects on beliefs and other elements of the cognitive structures of audience members. Factors emphasized in previous studies, such as audience or product characteristics, are seen as factors that may moderate the belief/attitude formation process and are not of primary theoretical importance (cf. Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975). Although this attitudinal, information processing approach appears useful in examining a variety of important issues involved in advertising research (cf. Olson and Mitchell, 1975), we are aware of only one published study that has used this general framework in studying the effects of advertising (Mazis and Adkinson, 1976).

Information processing theory points to at least three identifiable stages or subprocesses that may be important in understanding repetition effects. (1) First, information from the physical ad must be acquired and perceived or encoded in a symbolic, cognitive form (i.e., assigned a meaning). This information-acquisition process involves the well-known steps of exposure, attention, and comprehension (i.e., encoding), as well as the perceptual defenses. Essentially, this stage is the reception factor in McGuire's (1968) familiar two-factor model. (2) A second identifiable stage concerns the further processing of this information, involving comparison processes and/or integration with other information. Additionally, this stage includes the possible incorporation of information as specific cognitive elements (e.g., beliefs) in one's cognitive structure. Beliefs, attitudes and intentions may or may not be created or changed as a function of processing this information (i.e., yielding may or may not occur, McGuire, 1968). (3) Finally, a third stage involves the possibility that some of the information may be forgotten. This inability to recall or recognize the information (i.e., blockage of retrieval from memory) may occur because of interference from intervening events or from nonuse of the information over time.

From this theoretically-based perspective, it is possible to derive a variety of hypotheses about how advertising repetition may operate within each subprocess or stage. Such working hypotheses can provide needed theory-based guides for future study. Several examples of the heuristic value of this framework for creating research hypotheses follow.

Information Acquisition Stage

Two of several possible hypotheses are discussed for the information acquisition stage. First, due to situational distractions or because of the complexity of the message, a number of repetitions may be required before the information communicated by the advertisement is completely acquired (i.e., fully and accurately encoded in a cognitive form) by the audience.

A second hypothesis can be derived from the information processing literature that suggests both a short-term and a long-term memory (cf. Newell and Simon, 1972). Information is thought to remain in short-term memory only briefly (a matter of seconds) and then is either forgotten or is transferred into long-term memory. The mechanism for "writing" information from short-term into long-term memory is thought to be rehearsal, an active cognitive process in which the encoded information is mentally reviewed. It seams reasonable to assume that consumers do not actively try to rehearse information about products at any given advertising exposure. However, one could hypothesize that each exposure due to advertising repetition may partially elicit or cause rehearsal, which, after multiple exposures, "moves" the information into long-term memory.

Of course, both of these hypothesized processes could and probably do occur simultaneously. That is, as the ad is repeated, certain information in the advertisement may be acquired, while other more easily encoded elements may simultaneously be transferred from short- to long-term memory.

Belief/Attitude Formation Stage

Hypotheses regarding the effects of repetition on the belief/attitude formation stage require a logical, theoretically-based model of the processes underlying attitude acquisition. In an earlier paper, Olson and Mitchell (1975) recommended adoption of a behavioristic approach which relies heavily upon the basic learning mechanisms of classical and operant conditioning. Fishbein's (1967) attitude model is derived from this theoretical foundation. In this model, beliefs are the perceived associations between a brand and related concepts or attributes. The strength of the association, or the belief strength, is measured by the subjective probability or likelihood that each attribute is associated with that brand. The strengths of the "i" salient beliefs (Bi) about the brand and the evaluative aspects (ei) of each belief then combine, according to Fishbein's formulation, to create an overall attitude (Ao) toward the brand (Ao = SBiei).

Given this explicit model, one could hypothesize that the continued pairing of an attribute and a brand through advertising repetition should increase the strength of the belief that the brand possesses that attribute. According to the Fishbein model, this cognitive belief change will create a corresponding change in the overall attitude toward the brand, if the belief is salient and the evaluation of that attribute and the strengths and evaluations of all other salient beliefs remain constant.

A second hypothesis about the attitude formation stage derives from the work of Zajonc (1968). Originally, Zajonc hypothesized that repeated exposure to a stimulus is a sufficient condition for increasing an individual's attitude toward that Stimulus. Numerous studies examining this hypothesis generally have found it to hold for unfamiliar stimuli (e.g., Chinese symbols), but not for familiar stimuli such as English words. To explain these and yet other inconsistencies, a variety of competing hypotheses have been proposed, including response competition, arousal theory, classical conditioning, differential stimulus complexity, and Berlyne's (1970) two-factor theory. However, no single theory has received clear support, although the two-factor approach seems most robust (cf. Sawyer, 1976). We suggest that attention to the underlying cognitive belief base for affect or attitude may clarify this confusion. For instance, the attitude acquisition model described above suggests that advertising repetition creates brand beliefs, which in turn determine brand attitude, rather than changing attitude directly.

Forgetting Stage

The third information processing stage important to the study of repetition effects involves the forgetting of information over time. From an information processing view, forgetting can be considered the inability to retrieve information from long-term memory. Although researchers are just beginning to probe the complex processes of information retrieval, concepts such as an indexing process that enables retrieval suggest several interesting hypotheses regarding repetition effects. For instance, one could hypothesize that advertising repetition reduces or stops forgetting by continually reinforcing the process of information retrieval from long-term memory. That is, on each exposure the "A-ha, I've-seen-that-before" response (Krugman, 1972) requires the incoming encoded information to be compared with existing, previously learned information. In this sense, repeated advertising exposures require repeated retrieval of stored information, thus reducing the likelihood of its being forgotten. This hypothesized effect of advertising repetition would apply equally well for either the decay or interference explanation of forgetting (see Wickelgren, 1974).

Summary

In sum then, we suggest that a cognitive, information processing approach focusing on the information belief basis for attitude and behavioral intention be used in studying mass communication effects and, specifically, the effects of advertising repetition. In researching the latter phenomenon, we further suggest that it is useful, given our current knowledge, to separately examine the effects of repetition for the three different stages of information processing identified above--the information acquisition, belief/attitude formation, and forgetting stages. However, we recognize that eventually our research must combine these stages, since important interactions probably occur between them.

RESEARCH PURPOSE

The broad purpose of the present study is to demonstrate the viability of an attitudinal, information processing approach to research on repetition of print advertising. More specifically, this investigation concentrated on the cognitive effects of advertising repetition at the belief/attitude formation stage. The general research question guiding the design of this study was whether level of advertising repetition increases brand belief strength or whether brand attitude was affected directly by repetition without an accompanying belief change. To provide conditions in which such effects would be more clearly evidenced, the effects of two types of print advertising were examined: (a) ads in which an explicit claim is made regarding a specific product attribute, and (b) nonverbal, image-type ads that merely pair the brand name with a picture or symbol. It was considered important to know whether a cognitive structure approach to advertising effectiveness research is useful for studying the effects of the latter type of advertisement in which no explicit product claim is made. Specifically, the research question here is whether image ads in fact create attribute-specific beliefs about the product. In addition, we were also interested in whether repetition had differential effects for these two types of print advertising.

In sum, it should be noted that this essentially exploratory study was neither designed as a rigorous test of the notion that beliefs are causal of attitude nor that the direct effect of advertising is on beliefs, not attitudes. However, the present results may shed some light on these interesting theoretical questions. If, for instance, advertising exposure creates changes in Ao but not brand beliefs, this would be rather strong evidence for a direct effect of advertising on attitude. However, if advertising effects on both beliefs and attitude are found, this would not provide conclusive evidence for Fishbein's basic premise that attitudes are a function of beliefs. In short, we consider this research as a pilot in a hopefully extensive series of studies on advertising effectiveness and repetition effects.

METHOD

Subjects

Subjects were 77 junior and senior students of both sexes recruited from the introductory marketing course. Subjects signed up to attend one of four experimental sessions (it is assumed that choice of a session is equivalent to a formal randomization procedure). Participants were paid $2.00 upon completion of the experiment which required approximately one-half hour.

Experimental Design

To minimize demand characteristics (Sawyer, 1975), an experimental design was used in which consumer reactions were measured only after ad exposure. The resulting design was a 4 x 4 Latin Square with repeated measures over both factors (see Table 1). The two factors were four levels of repetition--2, 4, 6 and 8 exposures--and four different types of advertisements (three non-verbal, image ads and one verbal claim ad), each for a different "brand." Four groups of subjects were used with each group being exposed to the four advertisements, each ad under a different level of repetition. Thus, each subject was presented with 20 advertising exposures, for four different ads. Because this design is but one of several possible 4 x 4 Latin Squares, complete, unbiased information is possible for the main effects of Groups, Ad Type/Content, and Repetition Level, but only partial information can be obtained on the interaction effects (see Winer, 1971). In spite of this restriction, this design was chosen for its efficiency (only 4 groups were required) and because the four different ads to which subjects were exposed helped disguise the experimental purpose.

Product

For several reasons, facial tissue was selected as the product category to be advertised. First, the product category was familiar enough to the subjects so that the salient product attributes were well known and thus easily determined. Second, the cognitive structure for facial tissue was relatively simple (i.e., a small number of salient attributes). Finally, it appeared that one of the salient attributes could be communicated in a pictorial, nonverbal ad, as well as through an explicit, verbal claim.

TABLE 1

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN AND NUMBER OF REPETITIONS OF EACH ADVERTISEMENT

Informal discussions with several secretaries and students indicated that the salient attributes for the facial tissue product class were softness, price, absorbency, tearing ease, scent, and color. The attribute of softness was selected to be communicated nonverbally (pictorially) and by an explicit, verbal claim.

To eliminate the influence of prior brand learning on measured repetition effects, it was necessary to use unfamiliar brand names. The letters I, J, L and-R were selected as the "brand names" based on pilot research indicating that individuals made relatively few associations with these letters.

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The four test advertisements were designed to look like mock-up print ads. Each ad contained a headline (all used identical type face and size) which said, "Brand 'J' Facial Tissues," for example, and about the same amount of simulated copy (lines representing rows of words, arranged in paragraph form below the headline). The artwork, simulated copy, and reproduction of the finished ads onto 35 mm. slides were done professionally and were of high quality.

Of the four advertisements, the verbal ad contained only an explicit product claim (no picture) while the three nonverbal, image ads contained only the brand name headline and a large (1/2 of the ad) color photograph (i.e., no product claim). The verbal and one of the nonverbal advertisements were designed to communicate that the product possessed the specific attribute of softness. The nonverbal ad contained a picture of a fluffy kitten against a dark background below which was the headline, "Brand 'J' Facial Tissues," and the simulated copy. The verbal claim ad contained only the headline "Brand 'I' Facial Tissues are Soft" below a large 1/2 page blank space where a picture might have gone.

The two other nonverbal ads contained pictures thought to be basically irrelevant to the product. The ad for Brand "L" pictured a positively evaluated stimulus--a beautiful sunset over the ocean, and the ad for the Brand "R" included a neutrally evaluated stimulus--an abstract painting.

Dependent Variables

The dependent variables measured in this study consisted of various elements of cognitive structure (cf. Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975). These included belief strength (Bi) for the salient brand attributes, evaluation (ei) of each attribute belief, attitude toward each brand (Ao), attitude toward the act of purchasing and using each brand (Aact), and purchase intentions toward each brand (BI).

Because of the importance to the research purpose of precisely measuring subjects' beliefs about facial tissues, this study used Ahtola's (1975) vector model modification of Fishbein's basic expectancy value model. Evidence from an earlier study suggested that this measurement approach is capable of monitoring rather subtle changes in consumers' belief systems (Olson and Dover, 1976). Ahtola's model requires that one know not only the salient attributes for a product, but also the discriminable levels, categories, or amounts of each attribute dimension (cf. Mazis, Ahtola and Klippel, 1975). In the Ahtola model, each discriminable attribute level corresponds to a specific, measured belief. Thus, the beliefs about the levels of a given attribute constitute a belief vector.

The discriminable belief levels for each attribute were identified through pilot interviews and are presented in Table 2. Following Ahtola, belief strength was measured for each belief level along each attribute dimension. However, the procedure for measuring the belief strength for each content level differed slightly from that suggested by Ahtola (1975). Using a constant sum procedure, he asked respondents to assign ten points among the different content belief levels of each attribute, such that the number of points allocated indicated one's subjective probability that the brand possessed that level of the attribute. In the present procedure, respondents were asked to rate each attribute level on a 7-point scale as to how likely or unlikely it was that that content level was associated with the brand. In addition, measures of evaluation toward each attribute level were taken on bipolar scales labeled good-bad (+3 to -3).

Other, more global cognitive elements were also measured. The mean score of four bipolar evaluative scales (good-bad, dislike very much-like very much, pleasant-unpleasant, poor quality-high quality) constituted a measure of attitude toward the brand (Ao), and the mean score of three evaluative scales (good-bad, foolish-wise, beneficial-harmful) was used as a measure of the attitude toward the act of purchasing and using the brand (Aact). Behavioral (purchase) intentions toward each brand (BI) were measured on 7-point bipolar scales anchored by the phrases "Not at all likely to buy" and "Very likely to buy."

TABLE 2

DISCRIMINABLE BELIEF LEVELS ALONG EACH SALIENT ATTRIBUTE DIMENSION FOR FACIAL TISSUES

Experimental Procedures

After being seated at tables in a large room, subjects were told that the study dealt with their reactions to ads for four brands of facial tissue. They were told that they would see the ads for these brands several times and then be asked to evaluate the four ads. To meet University regulations, subjects then signed an informed consent form.

To minimize demand characteristics, maximize attention, and encourage respondents to learn the association between each "brand" and its advertising, subjects were told that one purpose of the experiment was to investigate whether different ads influence an individual's ability to remember the brand name of the product. Thus, subjects were told to concentrate on remembering the brand names and the advertisement for each brand.

Subjects were then shown 20 ads (4 brand advertisements with either 2, 4, 6 or 8 repetitions) spaced so that each ad remained on the screen for 10 seconds. After exposure to all ads, subjects completed the dependent variables embedded in a questionnaire booklet. Then subjects were debriefed, paid, and dismissed.

RESULTS

Demand Characteristics

As a check for demand characteristics, subjects were asked, after completing the questionnaire, to write a brief paragraph discussing what they believed to be the purpose of the experiment. Their comments indicated that virtually all of the subjects accepted the explanation given to them. No subjects mentioned that the experiment might deal with the effects of conditioning or of different types of advertising on the formation of beliefs, attitudes, or intentions.

Brand Name Learning

The first question in the experimental questionnaire asked the subjects to match each of the brand names with a description of the advertising content for that brand. Four subjects were not able to answer this question correctly and were dropped from the analysis. Another two subjects failed to complete substantial parts of the questionnaire and were also dropped from the analysis. The resulting sample sizes were 21, 19, 17 and 14 for groups A, B, C and D, respectively.

Repetition Effects on Cognitive Elements

An ANOVA for a 4 x 4 Latin Square with repeated measures was run on the belief strength means for each of the 15 salient beliefs about facial tissue (i.e., the 15 content levels for the five belief vectors, see Table 2). No main effects due to Repetition Level were obtained and none of the (partial information) interactions were significant (all ~'s > .10). Only one significant main effect due to the group factor was obtained (p < .05), this for the "less-economical-than-most-brands" belief. However, Advertising Type/Content did have significant effects on belief strength. Of the 15 beliefs about facial tissue, 5 evidenced main effects due to the type and content of advertising (p's < .05). Two of these effects involved beliefs that the brands were "less economical than most brands" and "comes in more attractive colors than most brands." Of greater interest in this paper are the effects of Ad Type/Content on the softness belief vector. Table 3 presents the marginal means of belief strength for the four discriminable levels of softness. Belief strengths for three of these attribute levels evidenced significant main effects due to advertising type and content--not at all soft, fairly soft, and very soft (p's < .05). In general, exposure to the advertisements created relatively strong beliefs that the brands had some degree of softness (note the grand means Table 3). A closer perusal of this data reveals that the strongest beliefs that a brand was "very soft" or "fairly soft" were created, not by the explicit verbal claim that the product was soft, but by the nonverbal ad that merely paired a kitten with the brand name (e.g., 4.81 vs. 5.48, respectively, for the "very soft" belief). Note also that the sunset ad also created rather strong beliefs that the brand was "very soft" and "fairly soft." Finally, as anticipated, the nonverbal ad picturing an abstract painting created the weakest beliefs that that brand was soft and the strongest beliefs that it was "not at all soft."

TABLE 3

MARGINAL MEANS OF BELIEF STRENGTH FOR SOFTNESS BELIEF VECTOR AS A FUNCTION OF AD TYPE/CONTENT

The same ANOVA was also run on the means for brand attitude (Ao), attitude toward the purchasing and using of the brand (Aact), and behavioral intention (BI). Again, none of the interactions and none of the main effects due to Groups or Repetition Level were significant (all p's > .10). However, significant main effects of Advertisement Type/Content were obtained for each of the Ao, Aact, and BI variables (all p's < .02).

The mean scores for these three cognitive elements are plotted in Figures 1 through 3. Figure 1 clearly illustrates the lack of a repetition effect on brand attitude. The Ao scores are relatively stable over repetition levels. Two repetitions created as positive an attitude as did eight repetitions. Additionally, it is interesting to note that the attitudes toward the two brands advertised via nonverbal ads illustrating positive evaluated stimuli (Brands J-Kitten and L-Sunset) are considerably more positive than the brand associated with the neutral stimulus (abstract painting) or the brand in the explicit verbal claim advertisement.

Attitudes toward purchasing and using the different brands (Aact) followed the same general pattern as the Ao scores (see Figure 2). The main difference is the increase in attitude for Brand I (verbal ad) on the fourth and sixth repetitions which is considerable more positive than for Ao.

The behavioral intentions scores (Figure 3) tend to exhibit the same general pattern with two important exceptions. First, the verbal claim ad tends to have BI scores which are closer to those for the two nonverbal ads associated with positive stimuli (Brands J and L) than to Brand R (ABSTRACT - ad). This is somewhat different from the Ao and Aact results. Another interesting finding illustrated in Figure 3 is the curvilinear nature of the repetition main effect on BI which, incidentally, approached statistical significance (p = .10).

FIGURE 1

ATTITUDE TOWARD BRAND AS A FUNCTION OF ADVERTISING TYPE/ CONTENT AND NUMBER OF ADVERTISING REPETITIONS

FIGURE 2

ATTITUDE TOWARD THE ACT OF PURCHASE AS A FUNCTION OF ADVERTISING TYPE/CONTENT AND NUMBER OF ADVERTISING REPETITIONS

FIGURE 3

BEHAVIORAL INTENTION TO PURCHASE AS A FUNCTION OF ADVERTISING TYPE/CONTENT AND NUMBER OF ADVERTISING REPETITIONS

DISCUSSION

This study demonstrated the viability of using a cognitive structure approach to the study of communication effects. In addition, two general questions concerning the effect of repetition at the belief/attitude formation stage were examined. The first question concerned whether advertising repetition would increase the strength of belief regarding the brand-attitude association communicated in the advertisement. The second question involved whether advertising repetitions alone, regardless of what information was being communicated, would affect the attitude toward the brand (Ao) or attitude toward brand purchase and use (Aact) without a coincident change in belief strength.

The present data suggest negative answers to both questions. No effects of repetition were found on belief strength, Ao, Aact, or BI scores. Thus, the present results suggest that advertising repetition does not have a direct effect at the belief/attitude formation stage of information processing. This finding is entirely consistent with Krugman's (1972) notion that the content of most ads is acquired in one or two trials. Perhaps future research on the cognitive effects of repetition would be more profitably focused on the acquisition and forgetting stages of information processing. However, a partial explanation for the present lack of repetition effects may be the extremely simple information contained in the ads. Future research should use substantially more complex advertisements involving multiple beliefs to more effectively test the repetition-belief strength relationship.

Although the effects of repetition on cognitive structure elements were nonexistent, the present data did find cognitive effects of ad content and type. Specifically, the information contained in the advertisements (the topic or appeal used) and how the information was presented (verbal claim or nonverbal illustration) had significant effects on the formation of cognitive states. In fact, the general pattern of results provides strong evidence for a consistent effect of ad content and type on all measured cognitive elements, including beliefs, attitudes and intentions. As such, these data point to the value for advertising effectiveness research of obtaining sensitive measures of the entire range of possible cognitive effects, and furthermore, indicate the viability of the attitudinal, information processing approach proselytized above.

It should also be emphasized that this cognitive structure approach creates data relevant to important theoretical issues underlying the attitude formation process (cf. Olson and Mitchell, 1975). For instance, issues such as whether attitudes are created directly through information exposure or whether beliefs must be acquired before an attitude is possible can be addressed through this approach. Research interest in such issues has been evidenced (cf. Lutz, 1975), but space limitations preclude such analyses in this paper.

Several interesting questions stimulated by the conceptual approach suggested above and/or by the results of this study await further research. These include the important theoretical issue of whether affect (attitude) can be conditioned directly to a brand (through nonverbal image ads, for example) or whether beliefs must be first created which in turn cause the attitude. That is, do attitudes require an underlying, causal belief structure? Second, the fairly consistent curvilinear pattern of relationships between repetition and BI and the flat linear relationship between repetition and Ao suggests that repetition levels may have varying functional relationships with different cognitive elements. Additionally, it would seem advisable in future research to apply the present conceptual framework to more realistic repetition situations in which the ads are more complex informationally and the time between exposures is longer. Finally, the present approach seems to provide a basis for examining differences in the cognitive impact of nonverbal, image ads and those which make explicit claims. This interesting area of inquiry warrants research attention.

In conclusion, the data produced by this study suggest that future research on repetition effects, or in fact, any advertising effectiveness research, should carefully measure the beliefs underlying attitudes, in an attempt to more fully understand the effects of advertising repetition on consumer attitudes and intentions. We hope this first exploratory study in our research program will encourage others to examine the complex and important effects of advertising repetition.

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