alexa Theory of synesthesia applied to persuasion in print advertising headlines
Social & Political Sciences

Social & Political Sciences

Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

Author(s): Michelle R Nelson, Jacqueline C Hitchon

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Synesthetic metaphors are prevalent historically in popular culture, including advertising. Such metaphors equate sense A to sense B, such as hearing to sight, as demonstrated in the advertising headline, “Can't You Just Hear This Color?” In clinical terms, synesthesia is a rare condition in which stimulation of one sense produces an involuntary perception in another. For example, a person actually sees vivid, corresponding colors when listening to sound. Although awareness of synesthesia began with the study of synesthetes, the general population can enjoy a synesthetic experience metaphorically. As a consequence of its clinical roots, psychological implications, and aesthetic impact, synesthesia has received attention in diverse disciplines. The experiment reported here tests hypotheses regarding the persuasive impact of synesthetic metaphor in print advertising headlines. Findings suggest that in some circumstances, synesthetic headlines produce less, rather than more, favorable attitudes toward the advertisement and brand than literal equivalents.

This article was published in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly and referenced in Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

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