Sunday, December 16, 2012

Children's deep processing of commercial messages

Together with Heidi Vandebosch (Antwerp University) I did a series of studies trying to demonstrate that children (6 years old) are not the mere peripheral processors they are often considered to be. In fact, the processing of persuasive messages by these children could be as profound as adults' processing. This has strong implications with regard to the type of attitude change to be expected. Rather than being superficial and short-term, this insight suggests children are strongly influenced with possibly long-term consequences.

One possible reason why, in the past, many have considered children to be rather superficial in their processing of persuasive messages is that they are targeted with cues adults easily identify as persuasive tools (e.g. cartoon character endorsements, jingles, colorful images). However, these cues do not necessarily differ on a theoretical level from the cues that have effects among adults (such as visual imagery to convey product features, adult celebrity endorsements, humor, etcetera).

To learn more about our studies, please take a look at the slidedeck that was presented at the CTC2012 conference in Milan: