In regards to advertising, advertisers seek to not only draw the viewer’s attention, but also to allow the viewer to connect with the product. However, a major obstacle in affecting a viewer’s connection with a product is the existing prejudices a viewer may have. A way to resolve this obstacle is by increasing empathy and self-referencing. This study looks at whether presenting a typical user in an advertisement can bring about such feelings of empathy and self-referencing. Participants view an advertisement for an anti-depressant medication with either a typical user or a plain color background. After viewing the advertisement participants take a survey assessing self-referencing, empathy, social distance, and behavior towards depression in response to the advertisement viewed. The results of the study find that presenting a typical user in an ad is beneficial in inducing self-referencing over presenting a plain background. However, the advertisement did not encourage empathy or whether or not someone would buy the product. With all these things in mind, including the typical user in the advertisement is found to be beneficial but may not have long lasting effects.
This research was supported by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).
Cao, Christine; Ball, Jennifer.
Effects of Visual Advertising on Self-Referencing and Empathy Towards Health Conditions.
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