Date of Graduation

Spring 2008


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Michelle Visio


advertising, sexual stimuli, vibrant stimuli, brand recall, product recall

Subject Categories



Some research about the effectiveness of sexual content in advertising indicates that sexual content in advertising is counterproductive when testing for brand recall, due to the cognition of processing sexual stimuli. It was hypothesized that vibrant stimuli, which are vivid, salient, attention-attracting stimuli, will be more effective in facilitating brand recall when compared to sexual stimuli. Printed ads consisting of five sexual ads, five vibrant ads, and five control ads from magazines were used to assess the attention-distraction hypothesis. Vibrant and sexual stimuli were compared in terms of participants' attitudes toward each ad (i.e., feelings, liking, evaluation, and offensiveness). Participants' sexual attitudes were assessed using the Sexual Attitude Scale to examine the relationship between participants' sexual expression (i.e., conservatism and liberalism) and ratings for the three types of ads. Each of the three categories (i.e. sexual, vibrant, control) were presented using a Latin-square order to control for memory effects. A total of 167 undergraduate students participated in the experiment. The ads were projected onto a screen and each ad was displayed for 10 seconds. Results show that sexual ads were rated significantly lower than vibrant ads in terms of overall evaluation of the ad. Participants recalled significantly more products for the vibrant ads (M = 2.36) compared to the number of products recalled for the sexual ads (M = 1.84). This effect was not found for recall of brands, that is, number of brands recalled for vibrant ads (M = 1.03) was not significantly different from number of brands recalled for sexual ads (M=1.30). A negative correlation was found between participants' SAS scores and ratings of sexual ads. Individuals who scored higher on sexual conservatism rated the ads less favorably.


© Jam J. Khojasteh

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