The Influence of Involvement and Nfc on Consumer Response Toward Sexual and Nonsexual Appeals

This research sets out to examine whether sexual and nonsexual ads elicit different responses based on involvement and need for cognition (NFC). Two independent studies were undertaken to test the hypotheses. The results suggest that sexual appeals lead to higher recall, better recognition, deeper processing, and superior attitudes and purchase intent under low involvement or low NFC conditions. However, consumers who score high on involvement or NFC process both sexual and nonsexual ads more deeply and such consumers exhibit superior attitudes and purchase intent for nonsexual appeals.


Alexander, M. Wayne and Ben Judd, Jr. (1978), “Do Nudes in Ads Enhance Brand Recall?” Journal of Advertising Research, 18 (1), 47-50.

Block, Peter H. and Marsha L. Richins (1983), “A Theoretical Model for the Study of Product Importance Perceptions,” Journal of Marketing, 47 (Summer), 69-81.

Cacioppo, John T. and Richard E. Petty (1982), “The Need for Cognition,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42 (January), 116-131.

Cacioppo, John T., Richard E. Petty, and Chuan F. Kao (1984), “The Efficient Assessment of Need for Cognition,” Journal of Personality Assessment, 48 (3), 306-307.

Celsi, Richard L. and Jerry C. Olson (1988), “The Role of Involvement in Attention and Comprehension Processes,” Journal of Consumer Research, 15 (September), 210-224.

Chestnut, Robert W., Charles C. LaChance, and Amy Lubitz (1977), “The ‘Decorative’ Female Model: Sexual Stimuli and the Recognition of Advertisements,” Journal of Advertising, 6 (4), 11-14.

Childers, Terry L., Susan E. Heckler, and Michael J. Houston (1986), “Memory for the Visual and Verbal Components of Print Advertisements,” Psychology & Marketing, 3 (March/April), 137-150.

Dudley, Sid C. (1999), “Consumer Attitudes Toward Nudity in Advertising,” Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 7 (Fall), 89-96.

Fetto, John (2001), “Where’s the Lovin’? American Demographics, 23 (February), 10-11.

Fry, Kurt P. and Alice H. Eagly (1993), “Vividness can Undermine the Persuasiveness of Messages,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65 (July), 32-44.

Grier, J. Brown (1971), “Nonparametric Indexes for Sensitivity and Bias: Computing Formulas,” Psychological Bulletin, 75 (June), 424-429.

Haugtvedt, Curt, Richard E. Petty, and John T. Cacioppo (1992), “Need for Cognition and Advertising: Understanding the Role of Personality Variables in Consumer Behavior,” Journal of Consumer Psychology, 1 (3), 239-260.

Jones, Marilyn Y., Andrea J. S. Stanaland, and Betsy D. Gelb (1998), “Beefcake and Cheesecake: Insights for Advertisers,” Journal of Advertising, 27 (2), 33-51.

LaTour, Michael S. and Tony L. Henthorne (1994), “Ethical Judgments of Sexual Appeals in Print Advertising,” Journal of Advertising, 23 (3), 81-90.

Lin, Carolyn A. (1998), “Uses of Sex Appeals in Prime-Time Television Commercials,” Sex Roles, 38 (5/6), 461-475.

Lord, Kenneth R. and Sanjay Putrevu (2006), “Exploring the Dimensionality of the Need for Cognition Scale,” Psychology & Marketing, 23 (January), 11-34.

MacInnis, Deborah J., Christine Moorman, and Bernard J. Jaworski (1991), “Enhancing and Measuring Consumers’ Motivation, Opportunity, and Ability to Process Brand Information from Ads,” Journal of Marketing, 55 (October), 32-53.

Malhotra, Naresh K. (1982), “Information Load and Consumer Decision Making,” Journal of Consumer Research, 8 (March), 419-430.

Mittal, Banwari and Wilfried M. Lassar (2000), “Sexual Liberalism as a Determinant of Consumer Response to Sex in Advertising,” Journal of Business and Psychology, 15 (1), 111-127.

Petty, Richard E. and John T. Cacioppo (1986), Communication and Persuasion: Central and Peripheral Routes to Attitude Change, New York, NY: Springer-Verlag.

Petty, Richard E., John T. Cacioppo, and David Schumann (1983), “Central and Peripheral Routes to Advertising Effectiveness: The Moderating Role of Involvement,” Journal of Consumer Research, 10 (September), 135-144.

Pope, Nigel K. Ll., Kevin E. Voges, and Mark R. Brown (2004), “The Effect of Provocation in the Form of Mild Erotica on Attitude to the Ad and Corporate Image,” Journal of Advertising, 33 (1), 69-82.

Putrevu, Sanjay, Joni Tan, and Kenneth R. Lord (2004), “Consumer Responses to Complex Advertisements: The Moderating Role of Need for Cognition, Knowledge, and Gender,” Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, 26 (1), 9-24.

Reichert, Tom (2003), “The Prevalence of Sexual Imagery in Ads Targeted to Young Adults,” Journal of Consumer Affairs, 37 (2), 403-412.

Reichert, Tom and Courtney Carpenter (2004), “An Update on Sex in Magazine Advertising: 1983 to 2003,” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 81 (4), 823-837.

Reichert, Tom, Susan E. Heckler, and Sally Jackson (2001), “The Effects of Sexual Social Marketing Appeals on Cognitive Processing and Persuasion,” Journal of Advertising, 30 (Spring), 13-27.

Richmond, David and Timothy P. Hartman (1982), “Sex Appeal in Advertising,” Journal of Advertising Research, 22 (5), 53-61.

Richins, Marsha L. and Peter H. Block (1986), “After the New Wears Off: The Temporal Context of Product Involvement,” Journal of Consumer Research, 13 (September), 280-285.

Rouner, Donna, Michael D. Slater, and Melanie Domenech-Rodriguez (2003), “Adolescent Evaluation of Gender Role and Sexual Imagery in Television Advertisements,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 47 (3), 435-454.

Severn, Jessica, George E. Belch, and Michael A. Belch (1990), “The Effects of Sexual and Nonsexual Advertising Appeals and Information Level on Cognitive Processing and Communication Effectiveness,” Journal of Advertising, 19 (1), 14-22.

Singh, Surendra N. and Gilbert A. Churchill (1986), “Using the Theory of Signal Detection to Improve Ad Recognition Testing,” Journal of Marketing Research, 23 (November), 327-336.

Tai, Susan H.C. (1999), “Advertising Ethics: The Use of Sexual Appeal in Chinese Advertising,” Teaching Business Ethics, 3 (1), 87-100.

Zaichkowsky, Judith L. (1985), “Measuring the Involvement Construct,” Journal of Consumer Research, 12 (December), 341-352.


Sanjay Putrevu (2007) ,"The Influence of Involvement and Nfc on Consumer Response Toward Sexual and Nonsexual Appeals", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8, eds. Stefania Borghini, Mary Ann McGrath, and Cele Otnes, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 498-499.


Sanjay Putrevu, University at Albany, SUNY, USA


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8 | 2007

Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More


When CSR Becomes a Liability for Firms in Crises: Effects on Perceived Hypocrisy and Consumer Forgiveness

Argiro Kliamenakis, Concordia University, Canada
H. Onur Bodur, Concordia University, Canada

Read More


Trust the Polls? Neural and Recall Responses Provide Alternative Predictors of Political Outcomes

Samuel B Barnett, Northwestern University, USA
Andres Campero, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Ronen Zilberman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Chris Rose, New York University, USA
Aaron Robinson, Northwestern University, USA
Moran Cerf, Northwestern University, USA

Read More


H5. Being Looked Up or Being Looked Down? The Divergent Effects of Camera Angle on Nonanthropomorphized and Anthropomorphized Product in Ads

Changchun Xuan, Xiamen University
Rui Chen, Xiamen University
Jing Jiang, Suzhou Broadcasting System
Bin Yu, Tsingtao Brewery Company Limited
Jingjia Peng, Icartoon Culture & Media Corporation ltd
Shengdong Lin, Xiamen University

Read More

Engage with Us

Becoming an Association for Consumer Research member is simple. Membership in ACR is relatively inexpensive, but brings significant benefits to its members.