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Memory for Sexual and Nonsexual Television Commercials as a Function of Viewing Context and Viewer Gender


Correspondence to: Adrian Furnham, Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK.



The present study investigated memory for sexual and nonsexual commercials as a function of programme-commercial congruity and programme-induced level of involvement. Participants were allocated to one of four conditions: sexual programme with sexual or nonsexual commercials and nonsexual programme with sexual or nonsexual commercials. Recall and involvement levels were tested with a series of memory tests and programme ratings. It was predicted that sexual advertisements would be recalled and recognised better overall, that the sexual programme context would impair memory for commercials, and that level of involvement with the programme would inversely correlate with recall and recognition of the commercials and their content. Recall of sexual advertisements was found to be better than for nonsexual advertisements, and subjective ratings of programme involvement were higher for the sexual programme. Neither the perceived involvement level nor programme type affected memory for the commercials overall, but men were shown to remember sexual advertisements better than nonsexual advertisements—particularly when the sexual advertisements were embedded in a sexual programme. Women were equally good at remembering sexual and nonsexual advertisements. Implications of the current results and suggestions for future research are discussed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.