Current Issues in Advertising Discussant's Comments

L. J. Shrum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
[ to cite ]:
L. J. Shrum (1989) ,"Current Issues in Advertising Discussant's Comments", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 16, eds. Thomas K. Srull, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 723-725.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 16, 1989      Pages 723-725


L. J. Shrum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The three papers presented in this session possess some commonalities. First, quite obviously, the papers deal with some aspect of how advertising works. The first, "Self-Monitoring and Reactions to Image Appeals and Claims About Product Quality", and the third, "Source Independence in Multiple Source Advertising Appeals: The Confederate Effect" both deal with influences on liking and persuasion. They differ in that the first deals with internally generated causes (personality differences) and the third deals with external causes (message source). The second paper, "Refining a Multidimensional Profile for Television Commercials: An Application of Target Analysis", deals not so much with what causes liking or persuasion but rather with what dimensions or constructs are used to process liking of an ad. A dimensional profile is then used to predict ad effectiveness.

The first paper concerning self-monitoring and type of advertising appeal was an attempt to replicate and extend previous research by Snyder and DeBono (1985) which posited a link between degree of self-monitoring (high vs. low) and reaction or degree of favorability to different types of advertising appeals (image vs. claim). The results presented in this paper essentially failed to replicate the findings of Snyder and DeBono.

One possible confounding factor, and a factor which appears to differ between Snyder and DeBono (original study) and Beardon, Shuptrine and Teel (current study) is product involvement. In low involvement situations individuals engage in a heuristic (Chaiken, 1987) or peripheral route (Petty and Cacioppo, 1986) processing strategy. Under conditions of high involvement, a systematic (Chaiken, 1987) or central route (Petty and Cacioppo, 1986) processing strategy is used. The effects of source variables have also been shown to differ under varying degrees of involvement (Petty, et al., 1981), (Pallack, 1983). In the current study, Beardon, Shuptrine and Teel used a pretest elicitation to obtain the test products. Consequently, these products (jeans and running shoes) could be viewed as highly involving to the subjects tested. The original study used cigarettes, whiskey and coffee as test products. Interestingly, the current study also exactly replicated the original study, using the same products including brand name. While this would seem to negate the above argument, degree of involvement could still be different due to either geographical or temporal differences between subject groups. Indeed, the current study did find evidence of a correlation between preference for quality-based ads and product involvement.

Another explanation for the conflicting findings could relate to the operationalization of the self-monitoring construct. There has been some criticism of the Snyder (1974) scale (Lennox and Wolfe, 1984), (Briggs, Cheek and Buss, 1980). Beardon, Shuptrine and Teel recognize this problem and try to resolve it by using four different measurements of self-monitoring in their study. However, in view of the low correlation between (at least) the original Snyder scale and the revised Lennox and Wolfe scale, more research on the measurement of self-monitoring seems warranted.

Indirect support for the findings in the current study can be found in another study presented at this ACR conference. In a paper titled "The Relationship Between Need for Cognition and Other Individual Differences" by Ayn E. Crowley and Wayne D. Hoyer from the University of Texas, no significant relationship was found between differing degrees of inner or other directedness and reaction to image or claim appeals in advertisements.

Regardless of the problems cited above, the current study was very exhaustive in its attempts to replicate and extend the research of Snyder and DeBono (1985). The authors' conscientiousness and attention to detail is to be commended. And due to this thoroughness, the almost total lack of replication is somewhat startling, especially in light of recent work which shows a relationship between self-monitoring and source effect (DeBono and Harnish, 1988). Consequently, more research in the area of self-monitoring and advertising appeal is needed.

The second paper by Zinkhan and Burton attempted to demonstrate reliability and validity of two commercial response profiles, Leavitt's (1970) multidimensional profile and Schlinger's (1979) Viewer Response Profile. This was accomplished by replicating the two studies and using a confirmatory factor analysis (target analysis with Procrustes rotation) to test the hypotheses of the two scales. The paper also compared and contrasted the two profiles.

The results indicated that the Leavitt profile generally outperformed the Schlinger instrument. The factor structure for the Leavitt profile was confirmed for three of the four dimensions. The fourth dimension, "Familiar", did not show strong discriminant or convergent validity, at least compared to the other three dimensions. The overall performance of the profile was high, as shown by a coefficient of congruence of .802. The performance of the Schlinger profile was not as high, with a coefficient of congruence of .703. Three of the four dimensions showed some breakdown in convergent and discriminant validity. Three of the four dimensions did emerge, but on the whole were not as strong as the Leavitt profile.

With respect to predictive validity, the Leavitt profile performed marginally better, accounting for 21% of the variance in brand attitude, versus 19% for the Schlinger profile. Neither performed particularly well in accounting for variance in choice behavior. Only one dimension of each was a significant predictor of choice.

Some obvious explanations exist for the differences encountered, most of which are mentioned by the authors. In the Leavitt profile, the one dimension which did not emerge as strongly as the others (Familiar) was operationalized using only four items. The other three dimensions used 12, 8 and 8 items for operationalization. Perhaps additional items would allow this dimension to emerge more strongly. Such research is needed before concluding the dimension should be eliminated. Also, items which did not load as strongly as predicted should be studied for rewording or elimination.

The Schlinger operationalizations seem unwieldy. The items were selected from verbatim quotes from viewers, and some seem ambiguous. Studies using different operationalizations should be conducted before any final conclusions are reached.

Although the authors assert, quite correctly, that the data seem to indicate the Leavitt profile is more stable, they performed very closely in terms of predictive validity. Interestingly, the two profiles are only slightly similar. Both profiles have dimensions labeled "Relevant" ("Relevant News" for Schlinger). However, the items used for operationalization for these two dimensions are not very similar. The other dimensions do not seem to be related between the two profiles. This would seem to indicate that further refining of the dimensions, as well as their operationalizations, would be useful research.

The third paper, "Source Independence in Multiple Source Advertising Appeals: The Confederate Effect" manipulated source independence and number of sources while measuring cognitive elaboration and attitudes. The authors postulated that in multiple source conditions, subjects would react more favorably (have more positive cognitive responses and more favorable attitudes toward brand, source and ad) under conditions where the spokesperson was perceived to be less biased. This bias measure was manipulated by letting the subjects know that the spokesperson's endorsement was paid for or offered free. However, when only one source was used, there would be no difference in response to the paid or unpaid endorser. The results supported the hypotheses in all cases.

This particular study is interesting in that it elaborates or further refines previous research concerning spokespersons' independence. Research on the "committee effect" (Harkins and Petty, 1987; Wilder, 1977) has shown independence of source to affect reaction to ads. This research points out that non-independence alone does not minimize cognitive elaboration. Rather, multiple sources (versus a single source) is also required.

The data yielded some interesting results which might spur additional research. Although the differences were not significant, in the case of a single source the results were always more favorable for the paid source rather than the independent source, contrary to an intuitive prediction. Perhaps more powerful experimental designs might yield more significant results. Also, as the authors pointed out, a closer look at product involvement is warranted. Past studies have shown involvement to be a factor in level of agreement with an expert versus nonexpert source (Petty, et al., 1981), likable versus nonlikable source (Chaiken, 1980) and attractive versus nonattractive source (Pallack, 1983). The authors did control for these factors in the current study. However, manipulation of product involvement might yield useful results.

As a whole, this session on current issues in advertising served to refine previous work in advertising research. Most importantly, all the papers helped to define robust areas for new creative endeavor.


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Chaiken, Shelly (1987), 'The Heuristic Model of Persuasion," in M. P. Zanna, J. M. Olsen, and C. P. Herman (Eds.), Social Influence: The Ontario Symposium (Vol. 5, pp. 3-39). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

DeBono, Kenneth G., and Richard J. Harnish, (1988), "Source Expertise, Source Attractiveness, and the Processing of Persuasive Information: A Functional Approach," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55 (4), 541-546.

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