Happy endings aren't always best
(13 February 2007: VIDYYA MEDICAL NEWS SERVICE) -- Advertisements for financial planning services and medications often employ mixed emotions in their advertising. They may begin by raising concern about oneís future and end in vignettes evoking positive emotions. Or they may start with strong, positive feelings and then induce worry. Does it matter which sequence of emotions advertisers apply in their messages?
A new study from the March issue of the Journal of Consumer Research finds that happy endings donít always make for the most effective advertising, particularly when people become emotionally involved in an advertisement. "Contrary to conventional wisdom, consumers do not always prefer a happy ending," write Aparna A. Labroo and Suresh Ramanathan (University of Chicago). "Sometimes, it is better to give consumers the happiness to deal with subsequent negative information."
The researchers found that a consumerís level of emotional involvement is the critical factor that determines whether a narrative arc that goes from positive-to-negative or negative-to-positive is more effective. Specifically, detached viewers prefer ending on a positive note, but emotionally involved viewers are able to draw on the positive emotion and "cope" with the subsequent negative emotions.
"When participants evaluate ads, current emotions serve as a baseline from which to evaluate later emotions," the researchers write. "In contrast, when participants experience [ads], positive emotions enhance positive feelings and facilitate coping with later negativity."
Labroo, Aparna A. and Suresh Ramanathan. "The Influence of Experience and Sequence of Conflicting Emotions on Ad Attitudes," Journal of Consumer Research: March 2007.
Return to Vidyya Medical News Service for 13 February 2007
© Vidyya. All rights reserved.