October 28, 2013
SAVE US, ORVILLE:
Eat Popcorn, Be Immune to Advertising (Drake Bennett October 14, 2013, Businessweek)
Posted by Orrin Judd at October 28, 2013 6:34 AMThe research, published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology and conducted by psychologists at the University of Cologne, involved sending people to a movie. Before the film started, the German test subjects were shown commercials for Tostitos (PEP), Pert Plus shampoo, Danish butter Lurpak, Korean body lotion Innisfree (HELE), and other beverages, foods, and medicines unfamiliar to them. Half the participants were given popcorn, the other half a sugar cube. One week later they were invited back to the lab and shown images of various products. The sugar-cube moviegoers had a clear preference for the products they'd seen advertised, while the popcorn eaters didn't. In other words, the ads hadn't stuck with them.What accounts for popcorn's seemingly talismanic power? The researchers posit that it's not popcorn at all; it's chewing. Ads can be masterpieces of visual invention, but one of their most persuasive mechanisms is repetition--that's why marketers find ways to say the name of a product over and over. Experiments going back to the late 1960s have documented what psychologists call the "mere exposure effect." Simply having seen or heard something before predisposes people to liking it. And the way consumers familiarize themselves with something new is with their mouths.When people read, they tend to mime the act of speaking. Even if they're not saying the words out loud, the brain simulates the corresponding muscle movements of the throat and mouth. Sascha Topolinski, one of the popcorn study's authors and a neuroscientist at the University of Cologne, calls this "covert pronunciation simulation." The same thing happens when we hear something--the name of a new product, for example. Chewing, however, disrupts the process by monopolizing the speech muscles (unlike eating a sugar cube, which dissolves on its own), effectively drowning out any subvocalization and, with it, the process of familiarization."What we found was that if you prevent the mouth from simulating the pronunciation by chewing, you don't get repetition effects," Topolinski says.