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Keywords:

  • children;
  • advertising;
  • cognitive development;
  • persuasion

Abstract

Conflicting results on children's understanding of advertising may stem from differences in research methods. Most studies are conducted using interviewing techniques, employing only verbal questioning. In the present study, 136 children of two age groups (7 and 10 years) were first asked what advertising was for and, after responding, shown depictions of possible reasons. The results indicate that although older children are more likely than younger ones to understand that advertising seeks to promote selling, pictorial cues allow a much larger proportion of all children to indicate their understanding than verbal questioning does on its own, with younger children especially showing improvement. Thus, seven-year-olds seem to have an implicit understanding of the persuasive intent of advertising that they are unable to articulate in response to investigators' questions. Multiple methods appear to offer a means of evaluating the level of sophistication in children' understanding of advertising. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.