The effect of affect in advertising: can product preference be conditioned by background music?
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The present experiment provides a recent replication of Gorn’ (1982) affective conditioning study, investigating the role of music-induced mood in advertising and its subsequent effect on product choice. As an extension to Gorn’s original procedure, the experiment has addressed certain procedural concerns and expanded the scope of the study to investigate the effect of ‘mere exposure’. This was achieved by incorporating an additional background colour variable into the procedure and by examining how conservatism levels affect participants’ susceptibility to the effect. A 2x2x2 between subject design was adopted in the experiment, whereby participants viewed a slideshow of a highlighter (yellow, green) accompanied by a 45 second interlude of music (Happy, Sad). Out of 96 participants that took part in this experiment, half were exposed to a background colour variable. This entailed inexplicitly viewing a slide of solid colour, corresponding to the presented colour highlighter, before and after the main experiment was conducted. After completion of the task, participant’s change in mood, likeability and familiarity scores for the music, conservatism level, and product choice were recorded Results revealed a significant affective conditioning effect, with participants exposed to the happy music condition being more inclined to choose the pen to which they were exposed, whilst participants exposed to the sad music were more inclined to choose the unexposed pen. This direct transfer of effect was attributed to the mood that the music evoked, with likeability and familiarity having no significant effect on pen choice. Similarly, no significant effect of background colour was found, therefore showing ‘mere exposure’ to have little, if any, effect on conditioning strength. Susceptibility to mere exposure was found to be related to individual differences, with those who chose the exposed pen, independent of music condition, having significantly higher conservatism levels to those who chose the unexposed pen.