The Influence of Affective Context on Advertising Effectiveness

Douglas M. Stayman, Cornell University
[ to cite ]:
Douglas M. Stayman (1994) ,"The Influence of Affective Context on Advertising Effectiveness", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21, eds. Chris T. Allen and Deborah Roedder John, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 582.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21, 1994      Page 582


Douglas M. Stayman, Cornell University

Traditional approaches to affect in advertising have focused on affect as a mediator. That is, advertisements have been seen as influencing feeling responses which, in turn, influence relevant outcomes. This approach is exemplified by the stream of research on the influence of feelings on ad attitudes. In contrast, recent research has suggested the importance of the affective context in which stimuli are experienced to how those stimuli are interpreted and acted upon. This approach treats affect as a moderator, influencing processing of the ad and thus the impact of the ad on variables such as cognitive responses which then influence ad outcomes. This special topic session included papers focusing on different aspects of this moderation role of affect as a context variable for ad processing.

The first paper, by Douglas Stayman, explored the mechanism underlying the influence of affect on the processing of information in advertisements. The paper contrasted two explanations for why affect might lead to reduced (peripheral) processing, reduced capacity or motivation, with a third explanation of an influence of affect, that affect does not necessarily influence the extent to which information is processed systematically (the amount of processing), but rather the way that the information is interpreted (the type of processing).

The research first replicated Batra and Stayman (JCR 1990), who found an interaction between affect and argument strength consistent with a capacity or motivation explanation (less difference between strong and weak arguments in the positive affect versus control condition). However, Batra and Stayman used attribute importance as the manipulation of argument strength. This research extended their study in also manipulating the logical consistency of the arguments used. When specious arguments are used as the weak argument manipulation, the Batra and Stayman interaction is not replicated. The paper argues that this finding is inconsistent with either a capacity or motivation explanation and provides further support for the view that affect influences persuasion through influencing the way that information in messages is interpreted, rather than how extensively it is processed.

The second paper, by Karen France, Reshma Shah, and C.W. Park, considered the impact of specific program induced emotions at varying levels of intensity on the evaluation and memory of embedded advertisements. They suggest that positive emotion inducing programs facilitate ad evaluation and memory due to the cue accessibility hypothesis, while negative emotion inducing programs debilitate ad evaluation and memory due to distraction effects. Furthermore, they suggest that highly intense positive emotions elicited by television programs do not further facilitate ad effectiveness when compared to programs eliciting lower intensity positive emotions. Highly intense negative emotions, however, further debilitate ad effectiveness when compared to programs that elicit negative emotions at lower levels of intensity.

With a 2 x 2 full-factorial, between-subjects design, this study considered the impact of high and low emotional valence at high and low levels of felt emotional intensity on commercial effectiveness, specifically ad evaluation and memory. A pod of commercials was embedded in each program segment. Commercial effectiveness was assessed with multiple dependent measures (e.g., attitude toward the ad, attitude toward the brand, attention, distraction, and recall of ad message content). The paper on which this abstract is based is published elsewhere in this volume.

The third paper, by Meryl Gardner and David Schumann, expanded the role of affect related to advertising to the impact on consumption and post consumption, with specific emphasis on comparison standards used in (dis)confirmation judgments. The paper gave a conceptual framework for investigating the role of affect as it concerns advertising and satisfaction and the types and features of comparison standards used. The features discussed included nature, level, framing and perceptual distinctiveness. In addition, "mood management" as concerns product expectancies and subsequent evaluation were discussed. Finally, the role of other related mediators and moderators was presented.

The concluding discussion by Paul Miniard brought out some of the complexities and difficulties in researching the influence of affect, including some suggestions for further research into these effects.