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July 22, 2009

More on the TV ad study and Free Will

A few days ago, we blogged a New York Times article about a study of TV ads on snacking.

Snack Ads Spur Children to Eat More
By ALEX MINDLIN

Psychologists recognize that certain behaviors can be automatic. For example, unrecognized external stimuli can unconsciously stir us to anger, spur us to loyalty or incite us to rudeness without our knowing it. . .  continue reading

The study, Priming Effects of Television Food Advertising on Eating Behavior, was published in Health Psychology.  It examined the effects of TV ads on children as well as adults.

The study is described in an interesting discussion of free will and the role of external stimuli on behavior on the Psychology Today blog, The Natural Unconscious, by John Bargh, one of the authors of the study:

The following is another installment in an ongoing Psychology Today blog debate with Roy Baumeister concerning the existence of free will, for which the new study on automatic effects of TV ads is highly relevant. . . . 

Television and other forms of advertising is expressly directed at getting us to do something that is in the best interests of the advertiser, but not necessarily our own.  We have already recognized this in the case of cigarette (tobacco smoking) advertising and as a consequence it has been banned now for many years.  In the new study, Jennifer Harris and Kelly Brownell of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale and I showed that passive exposure to food advertising on television may contribute to the ongoing obesity epidemic by automatically triggering eating behavior, right then and there while watching TV. 

July 22, 2009 in Behaviorism, Children, Obesity, Television | Permalink

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