Psychologists disprove ‘sex sells’ maxim in new study

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By John Glenday | Reporter

July 22, 2015 | 1 min read

Advertisers seeking to showcase their wares during raunchy or violent content to spice up their products may be given pause for thought by the results of a new advertising study, with researchers observing that far from enhancing the ad such content merely served as a distraction.

The study saw 53 experiments conducted with 8,500 people at Ohio State University and found that viewers liked adverts with sexual or violent themes significantly less than more neutral campaigns, with a corresponding reduction in their impact on them.

It is thought this is because the sexual or violent scenes they have just witnessed dominate their attention when the adverts appear on screen, dimming their impact.

One of these tests viewers were shown violent scenes in the X-Files and steamy scenes from Sex and the City, finding that viewers were less engaged with the ad breaks than those shown America’s Funniest Animals or Miracle Pets.

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