Students Research Effects of Advertising on Mood

April 23, 2015

By Lauren Reihl

Many advertisements are specifically designed to produce certain emotional reactions such as the feeling of happiness or guilt. Senior psychology majors Kristen Green and Lydia Gonzalez and senior psychology and religious studies major Tyler Lowe conducted research on this subject which they presented in their SCHOLAR Day presentation, “Puppies and Sticks – Smiling, Mood and Persuasion.”

The students conducted their study on the hypothesis that the effectiveness of an advertisement is dependent on its ability to persuade a specific targeted or emotional reaction of the viewer. They used a sample of 41 students from the University of Mount Union.

Prior to the study, all participants took a baseline mood survey. They were then broken up into groups. During their study, they had a group of the participants bite down on chopsticks in order to force a Duchenne smile. The process of biting down causes the cheeks to tighten in a wide smile. Then they played one of two video clips for the participants – either a happy dog adoption story video or a sad video of an abandoned puppy in a kennel.

They found that participants were emotionally affected by all conditions. The chopsticks didn’t change or enhance the participants’ mood, they just became a distraction. On terms of persuasion, none of the effects were significant.

Limitations of the study were that there were only 41 participants, the facial manipulation via chopsticks proved to only be a silly distraction, there were many technical difficulties and there was no way to control the preconceived opinions about dog adoption.

In conclusion, the group found that while the emotion of the participants was affected, the persuasion was not. To take the research further, the students suggested coming up with persuasive videos that could help people with psychological and mood disorders.

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