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Unformatted text preview: W. PAYNE ': Journ . 1977, this expert knowledge in a. controlled itable tasks must be deslgned. Our 5 not fully successful in this sense, 3 Reference Notes .an P. B. Paroling policy feedback (supp1e_ 1 Report 8). Davis, Ca11f.: National Count-,1 ime and Delinquency Research Center, 1973. 2 ns L. T., Gottfredson, D. M., _Robison, J. 0:, lowsky, A. Information selection and use in > decision making. Davrs, Ca11f.: National cil on Crime and Delinquency Research cm s 973. I q 1.- 1 References I. W. The psychology of a, V a ' ' rocess: A joint application of at. : tioiecisligdlr: and information-processmg 13531 In I. S. Carroll & J. W. Payne (Eds, and social behavior. Hillsdale, NJ ‘ ' 6. . - Erlbaum Assocrates, 197 I i . ; E1162: Discretionary justice: A preliminary m. r 'Urbana, 111.: University of minors Press: J. 5., & Payne, . sis of variance and the magmtude I édécg} Anglygeneral :7approach. Psychological ~ ' -73 . elin’hligzlithegdergjdsness of offenses: An evalua- by offenders and nonofienders. {swig-2m ninal Law and Criminology, 1975,1365) CW. R. J., & McAnany, P. O. ( Ina.- uni; orary punishment. Notre Dame, .. 1972. sity of Notre Dame Press: 1e outcomes from :m, M. Prediction of paro . . l imaries of case histories. Journal of (5:111:20 if! minal Law and Police Science, 19 , , 1} F The psychology of interpersonal relations in, York: Wiley, 1958. z A. M., Heinz, J..P., ,nce, M. A. Sentencmg aluation. Journal 0 y, 1976, 67, 1—31. .enmeier R., 8: . . aking: Rehabilitation, expertise, ' ' rsity mythology. American Unwe )73, 22, 477—525. _ . E, 8: Reitan, H . . ‘ :‘d’nsli‘gility as a basis for sanction???szc ritish Journal of Social and Clinic 969, 8, 217—226.. le, V. A., 8: Frieze,- ributions as a media or success. Journal of hology, 19:16., :iner, B. Ac revemen )y an attribution theorrs. d an” 4chie'uement motivation an _ Pressyl Morristown, N.].: General L Received January 7, E .2. y of causal g expecta d Social 1. E. Stabilit. tor in Chang!“ Personality 0” The question of what constitutes deception in advertising is a complex question from eitheralegal (e.g. Gellhorn, 1969) or linguis— tic (e.g. Garfinkel, in press a, in press b) point of view. Although Federal Trade Com- mission (FTC) decisions in deceptive adver— tising cases have until recently typically been based more on subjective criteria than on unbiased empirical research (Brandt & Pres— lon, 1977), the usefulness of social scientists’ [fSfing consumers’ understandings of adver— ’ tlsellients has been suggested, even though it has; seldom been implemented (Gardner, “d5 anding, categorizing, and measuring he!) in advertising. He presents three f Applied Psychology align. 62, No. s, 603—608 Comprehension of Pragmatic Implications in Advertising Richard J. Harris Kansas State University A methodology for testing consumers’ interpretations of advertisements was developed and used to test understanding of implied claims about products. College student subjects heard 20 brief commercials on tape and later evaluated statements about the products as true, false, or of indeterminate truth value, based on the advertisement. The independent variables were type of claim (asserted or implied), temporal relation of advertisement and test (test while hearing and reading advertisement, test immediately after hearing, or test 5—10 minutes later), and type of instructions (presence or absence of specific instruc- tions discriminating between assertions and implications). Results showed that discrimination of asserted and implied claims was very poor under the most real-life conditions but was vastly improved by the explicit instructions dis- criminating assertions and implications and by a reduction in the time between hearing the advertisement and receiving the test. Ramifications for information processing, consumer education, and the empirical determination of deceptive advertising are discussed. ' action that the present study examined. ) offers a “conceptual” approach to ., Georgetown University, Washington, ber 1976. on, and Pat Martin for data collection §ls, to Kris Bruno, and Ross Teske for In writing materials, and to Greg Monaco ‘Perch for helpful comments on the manu- developed and tested in the present study. _ for reprints may be sent to Richard J. eDartment of Psychology, Kansas State Manhattan, Kansas 66506. 603 categories of deception: the unconscionable lie, the totally false claim that could not be truthful even with considerable qualification; . the claim—fact discrepancy, which can be made true by proper qualification; and the claim— belief interaction, by which the advertisement “interacts with the accumulated attitudes and beliefs of the consumer in such a manner as to leave a deceptive belief or attitude about the product or service being advertised, without making either explicit or implicit deceptive claims” (p. 42). It is this claim—belief inter- Gardner (1975) suggests several research methods for assessing consumers’ understand— ings of advertisements. One approach involves showing advertisements to the consumer and then asking questions to determine their un- derstanding of them. This information could then be compared to the advertised claim and objective fact to determine if the advertiser’s claim and the consumer’s belief interacted in such a way as to make the total advertisement deceptive. It is this methodology that was The particular problem examined is the interpretation of implied claims about a prod— uct as asserted and unquestioned facts. Lan- guage communicates far more than what is 604 directly asserted by an utterance. One type of indirect meaning frequently communicated is pragmatic implication, which leads the hearer to believe something that is neither explicitly stated nor logically implied. Most often such “leading” comes through the interaction of the linguistic input and the hearer’s stored knowledge. For example, for most people The hungry python caught the mouse pragmat— ically implies that the mouse was eaten, whereas the same sentence with dog substi— tuted for python would carry no such implica~ tion, presumably because of the difference in our knowledge about dogs and pythons. Prag— matic implications are constructed as infer— ences by the hearer in real—life situations and stored in memory along with other directly and indirectly interpreted information. Several psycholinguistic studies (reviewed in Harris & Monaco, in press) have shown that subjects remember directly asserted and pragmatically implied information in the same way and typically do not discriminate that the. implied information was not directly stated in the input. This has been shown using a variety of memory tasks in both laboratory and quasi-applied settings (e.g., Brewer, in press; Brewer & Lichtenstein, 1975; Harris, 1974; Johnson, Bransford, & Solomon, 1973; Preston, 1967; Preston & Scharbach, 1971) and is a phenomenon extremely difficult to alter by prior instructions calling attention to the assertion—implication difference (Harris, Teske, & GinnS, 1975). The present study examined the compre- hension and memory of asserted and implied claims in commercial advertising. The labora- tory finding that subjects cannot discriminate asserted and implied claims could have im- portant ramifications for this area, since it is not clearly illegal to imply false or misleading information in advertising pragmatically. If such information is interpreted and remem- bered equivalently -to directly asserted false- hoods, then both should be equally illegal. There are many ways‘ in which an adver- tisement can pragmatically imply a false claim. One method is through the use of hedge words, which weaken an assertion but may leave a strong implication (e.g., the statement that Zap Pills may help relieve pain does not guarantee relief). Also, comparative adjectives RICHARD J . HARRIS may be used without ever specifying the 7,» ject of the deleted clause in the underls syntactic structure (e.g., Chore gives y. whiter wash would not be false if the de clause were than washing with coal d Tmperatives may be perniciously juxta 1n such a way as to imply a causal conn between two activities (e.g., Get throu whole winter without colds; talae Erad‘ Pills does not ensure that taking the p‘ produce the healthful effect). Asking a n tive question is a useful device for impl an affirmative answer that may not be (e.g., Isn’t quality the most important I to consider in buying aspirinP). Inappropriate, incomplete, or inadeq reporting of survey or test results may easily mislead the consumer. Reporting the number of respondents answering a way and not the percentage or sample. or vice versa, can be highly misleading appropriate sampling techniques or in pletely specifying the competition in com tive tests are similar flaws, as is repé only the number responding to a surve the number questioned may have bee larger. The reporting of piecemeal re imply an unwarranted general conclu also a misuse of test results (e.g., C ram p0 Leprechaun has more front sea room than a Datsun 3-210, more 1 hiproom than a Chevette, and a larger than a Ford Pinto to imply that the more interior room by all measures t three competitors). Commercial excerpts such as the above were used in the present study perimental items to examine subjects: C hension of implied claims in advertiSm effort to develop a methodology t0 t3“ ner’s (1975) conceptual approach t0: tion in advertising and to extend Ia'bo studies of memory to the applied Pro? consumer information processing- If : dicted that in spite of generally faihflg criminate asserted and implied c1?u jects would discriminate better received explicit instructions about the- of interpreting implications as asser . ; if they evaluated the claims Ilnder " 7 him Bou of a lesser memory load. Table 1 Sample ——_—-— Assertior than y Implicat.‘ than y Test sent Test sent Anacin .— _. ._. Assertion Hair C beautif Implicatii looking and na1 Test sente Test sente Subjects The sub Students f1 tive Englis Participatk Materials .RIS be used without ever specifying the sub )f the deleted clause in the underly'm, ctic structure (e.g., Chore gives you; r wash would not be false if the deleted: a were than washing with coal dust), ratives may be perniciously juxtaposed :h a way as to imply a causal comedic, aen two activities (e.g., Get through, a winter without colds; take Eradiwld does not ensure that taking the pins “in ice the healthful effect). Asking a neg, question is a useful device for implying; fhrmative answer that may not be trut , Isn’t quality the most important thing nsider in buying aspirin?) appropriate, incomplete, or inadequau. 'ting of survey Or test results may also. ,7 mislead the consumer. Reporting only lumber of respondents answering a give, and not the percentage or sample size1 ice versa, can be highly misleading, In; opriate sampling techniques or man. ly specifying the competition in compara-K tests are similar flaws, as 1s reporting; the number responding to a survey, who rumber questioned may have been mud. er. The reporting of piecemeal results y an unwarranted general conclusron Y a misuse of test results (e.g., stating lE npo Leprechaun has more front seat head: L than a Datsun B-210, more rear—ml 90m than a Chevette, and a larger hurl a F 01d Pinto to imply that the car = interior room by all measures than e competitors). 3mmercial excerpts such as th re were used in the present study as mental items to examine subjects: COW? ion of implied claims in advertisrng,ll;§; ‘t to deve10p a methodology to test G V ' s (1975) conceptual approach to de in advertising and to extend laboral ies of memory to the applied problem I ;umer information processing. It wasp}. ('D ('D N o: ‘3 ed that in spite of generally failing to "j iinate asserted and implied clairl15: 5" 5 would discriminate better 1f_ if rived explicit instructions about the PIt nterpreting implications as assert“? : 1ey evaluated the claims under CODd‘ ’ . lesser memory load. IMPLICATIONS IN ADVERTISING 605 Table 1 _ Sample Experimental Materials W Item Assertion commercial: Aren’t you tired of the snifl‘les and runny noses all winter? Tired of always feeling less than your best? Taking Eradicold Pills as directed will get you through a whole winter without colds. Implication commercial: Aren’t you tired of sniflies and runny noses all winter? Tired of always feeling less than your best? Get through a whole winter Without colds. Take Eradicold Pills as directed. Test sentence (critical): If you take Eradicold Pills as directed, you will not have any colds this winter. Test sentence (indeterminate filler) : Eradicold Pills have been proven more efl‘ective in laboratory tests than Anacin or Bayer. Assertion commercial: Ladies, don’tyou really want to look your very best? Women who use Roy G. Biv Hair Color really care about looking their very best. Think of yourself in any one of Roy G. Biv's seven beautiful and natural shades of hair color. Don't you deserve such rich and vibrant color? Implication commercial: Ladies, don’t you want to really look your very best? Women who really care about looking their best use Roy G. Biv Hair Color. Think of yourself in any one of Roy G. Biv's seven beautiful and natural shades of hair color. Don't you deserve such rich and vibrant color? Test sentence (critical): If a woman uses Roy G. Biv Hair; Color, she must really want to look her very best. Test sentence (false filler) : Roy G. Biv Hair Color comes in three colors: red, brown, and silver gray. Method Subjects The subjects were 180 undergraduate psychology students from Kansas State University. All were na— tive English speakers and received course credit for participation. They were run in small groups. Materials Twenty advertisements of between 20 and 87 words (M =49 words) were written. All were for fictional products and were of the type frequently heard on radio and television. Each commercial had two ver- sions, one in which a critical claim about the product was directly asserted and the other in which the same claim was, pragmatically implied. Also for each advertisement, two test statements were written. The first was a paraphrase or restatement of the informa- tion asserted or implied in the critical claim of the Sommercial. The second statement was a control lit-m of either false (for 10 items) or clearly indeter- minate (for 10 items) truth value. Sample com— merdals and test sentences appear in Table 1. There were. thus two lists of stimulus items, each with 10 1mlilrcation and 10 assertion commercials, in random "def, With any given item appearing in each form 0“ one list. In addition, there was one list of 40 test sentences, 20 testing the critical material either as- serted or implied to be true in the commercial, 10 selltences always false, and 10 always of indeter- Eslélgte truth value. The 20 fictional products adver- dm va’ere Knockout Sleep Capsules, Brimstone Ra- Ti . Hes, Eradicold Pills, Roy G. Biv Hair Color, F“St-Cola, Crampo Leprechaun compact car, Fifi’s ash1°11 Boutique, Crust Fluoride Toothpaste, Tingle outhl‘lash, Fake-o-late Snack, Jones-Corolla Type— writer, St. Abraham’s Aspirin, Armadillo Hatchback car, Gargoil Antiseptic, Moon Shees, Tarzan After Shave, Cornies Cereal, Killoweed Herbicide, Bicep— tennial Cream Rub, and Dippy Chips. Design and Procedure One third of the subjects (the immediate group) were told that this was a study in how well they understood information presented in commercials. They were told to listen to 20 commercials on the tape recorder and, after each commercial, rate the two sentences related to that commercial as true, false, or of indeterminate truth value, based on what they had heard in the commercial. The concept of indeterminate was carefully explained with examples to show that the test statement could be either true or false based on the input commercial. The subjects were also told to accept what they heard as true, to avoid the natural skepticism set many people bring to advertising. After each of the 20 commercials in the list, the experimenter stopped the recorder and waited until all subjects had rated both sentences for that item. Each pair of sentences for a given advertisement was on a separate page, and subjects were instructed not to turn the page until after they had heard the relevant commercial. Another 60 subjects were run under identical con- ditions except that they received a written transcript of each advertisement that they could read as they heard it on the tape and/or read as they evaluated the test sentences (the concurrent group). This group was used to establish a baseline response rate with no effects due to memory errors. The last 60 subjects (the delayed group) heard the same list of 20 advertisements after being told that this was an experiment in how people under- 606 Table 2 Mean Number of “True” Responses to Critical Items (out of 10) Type of claim Temporal condition Assertion Implication Delayed No instructions Instructions Immediate No instructions Instructions Concurrent No instructions Instructions 8.07 7.43 7.80 5.33 8.17 5.40 9.67 8.10 stand and react to commercials. This time the list was played straight through without stopping the recorder. At the end of the list, they were given the same answer sheet the other two groups received, with the same instructions to judge the sentences as true, false, or of indeterminate truth value, this time from long—term memory. They were also told that, if they did not remember anything about the product mentioned, they should simply place an X over the number of the test sentence and not judge its truth value. They were given as long as necessary to judge the 40 sentences. To reduce confusion of product names, the delayed subjects were given a list of the 20 products in the order in which they were pre- sented in the commercials. Half of the subjects in each of the three conditions heard only the instructions given above (the no— instructions group). The other 30 subjects in each of the three groups heard the following additional initial instructions explicitly warning them not to interpret implied claims as asserted: As you listen to these commercials, be careful that you do not interpret implied information as fact. Sometimes people, including advertisers trying to sell products, will not state a claim directly as asserted fact but rather will only strongly imply that the particular claim is true. You may infer that the advertiser has said something about his product which in fact he has only suggested, but he has suggested it in such a way that it is very easy for you to naturally, obviously, and normally expect the claim to be true. For example, consider the commercial “MooMoo Milk tastes great. Keep your family feeling healthy. Buy MooMoo Milk.” What claim does this com— mercial imply about the product but not definitely state as fact? Write this down on the bottom of your informed consent sheet. (Experimenter re— peats the sample commercial and waits for subjects to respond and asks someone to volunteer his/her answer). The commercial did not directly state that MooMoo Milk keeps your family healthy; it only implied that. Does everybody understand RICHARD J. HARRIS that? Sometimes, however, a commercial or Ogle piece of information does directly assert a fact without uncertainty. Consider this example; Moo Milk tastes great and it keeps your fig? feeling healthy. Buy MooMoo Milk.” In this as: it directly states that MooMoo Milk keeps your family healthy; it is more than merely implied Any questions? The study was thus a 3 X 2 X 2 design, with be tween-subjects variables of temporality (comm-rent immediate, or delayed) and instructions and th within-subjects variable of claim type (assertion o implication). Half of the subjects in each condition heard each of the two lists of materials; all subjects receiv...
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