Special Session Summary Advertising and Communication Effects in Low-Involvement Situations, With Special Emphasis on Emotional Effects and Effects Upon Attitudes Towards the Message


Fleming Hansen (2001) ,"Special Session Summary Advertising and Communication Effects in Low-Involvement Situations, With Special Emphasis on Emotional Effects and Effects Upon Attitudes Towards the Message", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, eds. Andrea Groeppel-Klien and Frank-Rudolf Esch, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 290-292.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, 2001      Pages 290-292



Fleming Hansen, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark


"Forum for Advertising Research" is a initiative taken by Copenhagen Business School, in co-operation with a number of major actors in the marketing area in Denmark. Since its start in late 1998, a number of projects have been initiated. Among those, a major group are concerned with emotional effects of advertising, and low involvement data processing. In the present session, five such contributions are presented.

In advertising research, a growing concern has been with peripheral information processing (see, e.g. Petty and Cacioppo, 1988), emotional effects (see e.g. Richins, 1998) and low involvement information processing (see e.g. Rossiter and Percy, 1996). In neuropsychological research, improved insight into functioning of the brain has led to new understanding of emotion in controlling behaviour (see e.g. Dalmassio, 1994). In this special session, five contributions are presented, dealing with different aspects of this stream of research.

Larry Percy talks about low involvement and transitional information, and related emotional and attitudinal responses. Anders Rasmussen reports on a study of emotional responses o advertising, based upon electronic measures of facial response.

Tore Kristensen et al., show how effects of design variations should be studied in terms of peripheral information processing, where emotional responses and attitudes towards the design (A-De) are important. Jens Halling et al. look upon sponsoring as a low involvement information proces, and present an index of effect of sponsoring, which relates to emotional responses and attitudes towards the sponsor (A-Sp).

Finally, departing in rethorical theories, Christian Kock et al. talks about the dimensions in the perception of public spokes persons, and analyse how credibility, carisma, and emotional traits must be considered, in explanation of the popularity of different spokes persons.

In the Introduction and Conclusion of the Session, the inter-relationship between the findings of the different projects, will be discussed.



Larry Percy


A correct understanding of the role emotion plays in communication is essential to understanding advertising effectiveness, because emotion is an important mediator of processing. Yet the role of emotion seems to be misunderstood. There are at least two areas where we need to pay particular attention. First, we must be careful not to confuse 'emotion’ with positive affect. Emotion, even negative emotion, energizes processing, especially memory. And as Rossiter and Percy (1997) have repeatedly pointed out, it is not necessary to 'like’ all advertising for it to be effective. Emotion should and does operate in the processing of all advertising, even cognitive-oriented advertising. Because something is emotionally arousing does not mean it must be an affectively-oriented advert, at least not in terms of the affect-cognition distinction generally made.

Emotional stimuli should be included in adverts in order to serve an underlying purchase or usage motivation, where motivation is defined as a behavioural energizing mechanism. It is this emotional energy that affects brand attitude communication effects. At the low involvement level, when dealing with negatively motivated behaviour, emotion will operate directly upon brand attitude, but when dealing with positively motivated behaviour, emotion will operate on brand attitude indirectly through attitude toward the advertising. This is why it is essential that advertising dealing with positive motives must be seen as 'emotionally authentic.’

The second area of caution deals with how we approach looking at emotion in communication. As Rossiter and Percy (1987), again, have suggested long ago, it is foolish to expect a single emotion to be operating throughout the processing of an advert. Yet even academic research continues to reflect a single emotion theory. What is needed for most brand attitude effects in advertising is a dynamic sequence of emotion. This is especially true of low involvement advertising when negative emotions are involved. We shall be discussing how this need for a transition from one emotional state to another follows from Hammond’s (1970) reconceptualization of Mowrer’s (1960) theory of emotions. From Mowrer, one may speculate that the effective emotion in advertising will be close variants of fear, hope, relief, and disappointment. As modified by Hammond, hope and fear lead to excitatory behaviour while relief and disappointment are inhibitors.

In this paper we will be exploring these issues, discussing examples, and presenting the results of research in support of our position.



Anders Rasmussen

A study investigating relations between cognitive categories / cultural narratives and psycho-physiological phenomenon in the perception of visual stimuli.



The overall purpose of this project is to study emotional, feeling and high reason reactions to visual stimuli and how they work together.

The specific purposes are:

1) To show that emotional processes are relevant and crucial to consumer’s decision-making processes and that it is necessary to distinguish between different levels of emotional responses. These different levels are termed emotions and feelings as described by Damasio.

2) To show how the contextuallity of the decision making process determines if emotions or feelings dominates the outcome of the process.

3) To show that EMG and GSR can detect emotional responses while a projective technique as NeedScope can detect feeling responses.


50 respondents will be tested making decisions in different scenarios. Two of the scenarios will be typically for what Damasio would term emotional (involving sexual attraction and fear of violence) and two will be typically for what Damasio would term feelings (involving justice and morale).

Revealing the character of both the emotional and feeling aspects of the response a special test procedure will be used. The test procedure involves EMG and GSR to reveal the emotional response and the projective technique called NeedScope to reveal the feeling aspect of the response.

Before introducing the respondents to the scenarios they will be introduced to different pictures that will be involved in the scenarios. EMG, GSR, NeedScope and direct questioning will be used to detect responses to the pictures before the four different scenarios. These reactions will be used too predict the outcome of the four decisions making processes in the four scenarios.


It is a general observation that communication pre-tests reveal aspects of the communication effect related to attention, cognition, emotions and behaviour. It is also well known that market research has its focus on attention (e.g. which commercials do you remember?), cognition (e.g. what was the message of the commercial?) and behaviour (e.g. would you purchased the product after watching the commercial?).

Emotion on the other hand is, if not neglected, given a more superficial treatment, even though emotions often are the most important factor in the decision process. Often researchers rely on the very simple question about liking, "do you like the advertisement?" as an indicator of emotional reaction to the advertisement. This question raises two problems. First of all it is a superficial treatment of a complex phenomenon and second the question of ad liking is very often non-relevant. According to Larry Percy ad liking is not a demand to advertisements. Lots of advertisements sell the product successfully with no or poor ad liking.

Neither is a superficial treatment of emotions in market research harmonious with the strong emphasis on emotional communication in today’s advertising strategies or with the overall shift in cultural meta paradigm from the information society to the emotional society.

What is needed is a better conceptualisation and operationalisation of emotions in a marketing context as well as better test procedures for investigating emotional effects in mass communication. Today, and in the past, theories of emotions divides between biological and social constructivistic viewpoints. Trend setting scientist from both sides are talking about bringing the viewpoints together because both holds some of the truth.

Damasio’s Theory:

Damasio is a rather new researcher, bringing some new and interesting perspectives to the discussion of emotions. With a starting point in the biological aspects, this is his strength, but he is indeed covering both the biological and the social dimension. He distinguishes between emotions and feelings. Emotions represent the signal from the body (a primitive reaction to stimuli), while feelings are a higher perceptual level integrating the emotional signal from the body with sensory perception of the stimuli. In feelings emotions become images. Emotions are subconscious and feelings can be either conscious or subconscious. This is illustrated in the model below from Damasio.


According to Damasio our perception of stimuli is processed in different levels of perceptual maps. In the first level we have 1) a first-order map of our own body’s primitive reaction to the stimuli and 2) a first-order map of our sensory perception of the stimuli. At the next level these to mapsBand especially the relation between bodily reaction and sensory perceptionBare brought together in a second-order map. This second-order map is the perceptual image that we experience in our consciousness, it is our feeling of the stimuli and it is a mentally constructed non-verbal narrative.



Tore Kristensen, Gorm Gabrielsen and Jens Halling


The design of objects, artifacts, systems and services has ben in the sovereign domain of designers and engineers for a long time. While other strategic design decisions, for instance communication, product attributes and branding have been subject of extensively testing for its effectiveness, now also the effects of designs will be tested. Marketing will be expected to participate more intensively than ever in design decisions, but due to the intuitive and "creative" nature of design processes, marketing have lacked tools to deal with design.

The test procedure presented here is concerned with both preferences for design and the associated emotions and attitudes. Based on a number of naturalistic experiments, including both exiting designs and new artificial ones, we can present experiences with design testing and a tool applicable in practical business. The test was applied on both existing designs and new ones, simulating either a new design for an existing company or a design for a new company that wants to enter the competitive arena with a design that is compatible with the existing culture and yet enables a positioning.

In the experiments we tested designs consisting of several design elements such as shop fatade, logo, corporate colors, products, brochures, stationary, and paper qualities.

The test was conducted as a monistic design and it was possible to demonstrate that the test discriminates significantly between several designs according to the emotional and attitudinal responses.

The test clearly discriminates between "true" (existing) designs and artificial (new) ones. On all aspects except paper qualities there were clear indications that the design elements were perceived and that there were discriminating responses to them.

The design tests can be useful both as a pre design input to designers and as a test tool throughout the life-cycle in order to diagnose and identify improvements in the visual appearances and the material artifact itself.



Jens Halling and Gitte Bach Lauritsen



Sponsoring is becoming still more common as a supplement or alternative to existing marketing, which of course has led to a growing interest in measuring the effects of sponsoring. Thus, the purpose of this project is to study whether it is meaningful to measure emotional and evaluating effects of sponsoring, and if so, to develop a standardised tool for these measurements.


This project is departing in the ELAM-model (Hansen, 1997), which contains a number of effect measures for advertising pre-testing. These are adjusted, so that they are usable for measurements of sponsoring, and on the basis of this, a pilot study about 21 sponsorships was carried out, with 156 students as respondents. These respondents were asked to evaluate a number of sports sponsorships and cultural sponsorships, as well as some false sponsorships, on the following eight dimensions:


Emotions towards the sponsorship

Attitudes towards the sponsorship

Attitudes towards the sponsor

Buying intention

Linking between sponsor and the sponsored product




As a point of departure, the analyses are concentrated on the sports sponsorships, as these represent the majority generally, as well as in this particular study. The analyses show that it is possible, indeed, to evaluate sports sponsorships n the mentioned effect dimensions, and some very interesting conclusions can be made. Regarding emotions and attitudes, the factor analyses show that the responses are distributed very nicely in two (for emotions) and three dimensions respectively, so that the number of statements easily can be reduced. Besides, an effect score, consisting of three dimensions: Linking, liking and buying intention, is computed for the 12 sponsorships, which reveals a considerable fluctuation between them. Furthermore the data are analysed and compared in many different ways, such as team- vs. person sponsorships, handball- vs. soccer sponsorships revealing that it is very meaningful to study sponsorships on the above mentioned effect dimensions.



Flemming Hansen and Christian Kock


Evaluation of the credibility of political and other public spokes persons, of the credibility of companies and institutions, such as the police, court, etc., appear frequently in the press. These very simplified one-dimensional measures of credibility often have a rather questionable character. In the project reported here, the assumption has been that the evaluation of spokes persons, companies, institutions, etc., takes place in more than one dimension, and to the extent trustworthiness is one of those, then trustworthiness for different spokes persons or organisations may be explained by very different factors.

Departing in classical and newer international studies of corporate and individual identity, trustworthiness, confidence, expertise, etc., a selection of statements have been made, judged to be meaningful in evaluating leading Danish political and public spokes persons. The battery of questions include a total of 48 such statements. Respondents were 70 graduate students at Copenhagen Business School, who were asked to evaluate six well-known spokes persons: Svend Auken (Minister of Environment), Pia Kjµrsgaard (opposition leader), Bodil Nyboe Andersen (Director of the Danish National Bank), Maersk McKinney M°ller (the largest Danish private entrepreneur) and Ulrik Wilbek

(a well-known sports trainer and local political person). With the use of factor analyses, three major dimensions were identified for the evaluation of the known persons. The three dimensions have a good, theoretical background in classical, rethorical theory, and significant statistical support.

The dimensions can be characterized as "trustworthiness", "carisma", and "degree of emotionality". By profiling the persons, for whom data were collected along these dimensions, marked and meaningful differences between these appear.

Credibility in its own right appear as one of the three dimensions. It is analysed further what elements enter into the explanation of the credibility of different spokes persons. Again, it is evident that there are significant differences in what is important for different individuals’ trustworthiness. This is documented with the use of regression analyses and an integrated co-variance analysis, including all evaluated persons and all statements, related significantly to credibility for at least one of the five spokes persons analysed.

In conclusion, the presentation will discuss the development of a standardized, reduced questionnaire for measuring spokes persons, and also the problems associated with adapting a similar approach to the measurement of companies and institutions as communicators is touched upon.



Fleming Hansen, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5 | 2001

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