Thursday, June 25, 2015

Grey Matters: A Study of the Cognitive Impact of Color through the Lens of the Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion

Carrie Vanetta Perry, School of Psychology

Persuasion is defined as the art of getting what you want (Lakhani, 2005). However, it is also a science, because principles of persuasion can be investigated through scientific methods. The scientific study of persuasion, such as advertising, provides an open access laboratory within which researchers investigate principles of inducement through cognition to better comprehend the psychological theories behind the art of persuasion (Snyder, 1989). The goal of an effective and persuasive mass media campaign is to produce enduring changes in attitudes with behavior consistent results (BehaviourWorks, 2012). For this research project “effective persuasion” is defined as positive or desired changes in audience attitudes and/or behavior (Petty, Barden, & Wheeler, 2009) and is framed by the elaboration Likelihood model of persuasion (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). The underlying purpose of this research study was to determine whether a message that contains black-and-white components was more persuasive than the same message containing color components. The first hypothesis stated that those with a high need for cognition are more likely to donate after viewing a black-and-white message than those with a low need for cognition. Findings from this study suggest that need for cognition did not have a statistically significant impact on participant’s donation action. Hypothesis 2 stated that a black & white message is more likely to generate a donation action than the color equivalent message. Results of the study indicate that color or black-and-white ads have no statistically significant effect on donation response. Over time, the ELM has proven to be a vigorous model for predicting the effects of advertising and marketing messages on consumer attitudes and behavior.

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