You'd like to think that your fellow Americans respond to facts and figures when going out to buy stuff. You'd be partly right.

But a new UCLA study conducted in conjunction with George Washington University found that sex and emotion seems to pull you into stores just as well when it comes to print advertising. And, lest you think that hot chicks only draw the men in the household, that's not true.

Women respond to women too:

Ads that featured “an image of an attractive woman standing with legs apart (jeans ad) and a woman leapfrogging over a fire hydrant erupting with a water spray as a man enthusiastically grins behind her (cigarette ad)” actually resulted in low levels of brain activity after 11 women and 13 men were hooked up to electroencephalography (EEG) machines and their brain responses were analyzed.

That means, according to the research, we're mesmerized in a good way.

Of course, ” …brain regions involved in decision-making and emotional processing were more active when individuals viewed ads that used logical persuasion” — facts and figures — too, according to a UCLA statement.

UCLA psychiatry Professor Ian Cook says the data means that we're sort of, well, being brainless when we're targeted by “non-rational influence” (“NI”), or sexy, emotional marketing, but we think about stuff when confronted with the data about a product being advertised.

But if we see “a pretty woman, say, draped over a car,” in UCLA's words, our rational, decision-making brain cells go on hiatus (which is what happens when men see a beautiful woman n general).

The research was published recently in the online edition of the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics.


These results suggest that the lower levels of brain activity from ads employing NI images could lead to less behavioral inhibition, which could translate to less restraint when it comes to buying products depicted in the NI advertisements.

In other words, that stuff works.

Of course, we could have told you that without the help of expensive EEG machinery. Just walk into any Hooters. The food's really not that good there. And still, customers.


LA Weekly