Low-Key Anti Smoking PSAs are More Likely to be Remembered than Attention-Grabbing PSAs
This study reveals that low-key and attention-grabbing anti-smoking PSAs stimulate different patterns of activity in smokers' brains; and that smokers are more likely to remember seeing the low-key PSAs than the attention-grabbing ones.
Akinso: Low key anti-smoking public service announcements, or PSAs, are more likely to be remembered than attention-grabbing PSAs. This according to a National Institute on Drug Abuse study.
Grant: This study was a study of how the brain processes information in smoking prevention ads.
Akinso: Dr. Steven Grant is NIDA's chief of the Neuroscience Branch in the division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research.
Grant: The question is, that there are two competing theories about how smoking prevention ads should be constructed.
Akinso: For the first time, preliminary research using brain-imaging technology has shown that low-key and attention-grabbing anti-smoking PSAs stimulate different patterns of activity in smokers' brains and that smokers are more likely to remember seeing the low-key PSAs. Dr. Steven Grant explains the findings.
Grant: What they found was that the high message sensation value ads activated the back of the brain, the visual sensory parts of the brain, which makes sense when you think about it. Because these ads are full of sounds and fury and they have a lot of visual content that's changing very rapidly. So it primarily activated the visual areas of the brain as well as auditory sensory areas of the brain because they're a lot of rapidly changing information.
Akinso: Dr. Grant adds that high message sensation value PSAs compare differently to low key PSAs.
Grant: The low message sensation value ads which have higher informational content or actual message value, those activated by contrast the front parts of the brain. Where it is thought that there is more rational decision making and evaluation of stimuli goes on.
Akinso: Dr. Grant says the finding suggest that the attention-grabbing PSA format may impede the retention of a PSA.
Grant: The high message sensation value ads were processed in a shallow manner, they never got out of the early stages of sensory processing. The low message sensation value ads were deeply processed and were activated areas in the frontal lobe that are involved in deep processing. So, the meaning of the ads were being processed. And this was consistent then with their second phase of the study—where they asked people which ads did they remembered better and they. And they remembered the low message sensation value ads better.
Akinso: Dr. Grant emphasizes that the findings are new in that they offer a general approach for objectively evaluating PSAs before they are released. For more information, visit www.drugabuse.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Steven Grant
Topic: Smoking, PSAs