How advertising influences the attitudes and reported behaviour of middle-class British adolescents
thesisposted on 15.12.2014, 10:40 by Marina Payton
The interaction of adolescents with advertising is a subject area, which has received limited attention within mass communication circles - previous research having been largely directed towards young children. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate two important hypotheses relating to this subject area, namely that advertising and advertising images can influence middle-class adolescents' attitudes and reported behaviour; and another that middle-class adolescents are able to understand the persuasive effects and tactics, employed by advertisers, and on the whole are capable of making sound judgements about advertising. A review of available literature relating to this subject was performed, which provided a theoretical framework to support the investigation of the hypotheses. Two methods were chosen to test the hypotheses, namely questionnaires and focus group interviews. The questionnaire investigated such areas as frequency of exposure to advertising, purchasing habits and ability to decode and interpret advertisements. Focus group interviews allowed participants to discuss advertisements presented to them and advertising in general. The results of my study provided only limited support for the first hypothesis, concerning attitudes and reported behaviour and it was recognised that advertising was only one amongst a number of influencing factors such as peers, family and media. Although, in the questionnaire, three-quarters of respondents did report making an advert-related purchase, later investigation did reveal that there may have been some limitations in the methodology surrounding the questions asked. Results obtained from the focus groups, did show that participants were eager to discuss advertisements they have seen and cited jokes and slogans used in them, thus making reference to their interest, but not providing sufficient evidence of having been influenced. Nevertheless, both the questionnaire and focus groups findings provided evidence that participants possessed extensive knowledge of the tactics and techniques, used by advertisers, and were also aware of some of the motives behind the use of these techniques, providing support for the second hypothesis.