Longer Commercials = Stronger Emotions
April 4, 2012

Longer Commercials = Stronger Emotions

A new psycho-physiological study was recently developed to study the emotional response of people to television advertisements.

The study, developed jointly by El Bureau de la Comunicacion, the Tecnalia Center for Applied Research, and the UPV/EHU, was completely developed in the Basque Autonomous Community. The researchers wanted to answer two hypotheses: On the one hand, do advertisements with a social content that use negative images with violence or disgust achieve a greater emotional impact than those with positive content, and on the other hand, do long commercials succeed in evoking a stronger emotional intensity than short ones.

The researchers found that shorter commercials evoke greater emotional confusion than longer ones. The long commercials are self-explained better and allow the spectators to better adjust to the anticipated emotions. This allows people to elicit stronger emotional responses.

They also found that the negative imagery in social content media evoked stronger emotions than positive imagery. But, advertisements about social or moral behavior, using either positive or negative imagery, outperformed emotionally commercial advertisements both long and short.

In this study, instead of tying participants to lab equipment to measure brain response, the researchers devised an ingenious system to measure emotions in their patients. The researchers at Tecnalia used commercial heart rate monitors that then transmitted their data via Bluetooth connection to a smartphone.

The study consisted of 30 individuals each divided into groups of 5 people, 3 of one gender and 2 of the other. Each participant wore a heart rate monitor set to measure their emotional response while viewing 40 films. The films consisted of 10 TV spots of a social nature with positive imagery and 10 with negative imagery, 10 commercial advertisements broadcast on national TV during November in their full versions and 10 shorter versions of the same advertisements.

Each participant was then allowed one minute, while the screen blanked, to answer for the emotions that they had experienced.