THE EFFECT OF POSITIONING A MESSAGE WITHIN DIFFERENTIALLY COGNITIVELY INVOLVING PORTIONS OF A TELEVISION SEGMENT ON RECALL OF THE MESSAGE

Authors


Jennings Bryant (Ph.D., Indiana University, 1974) is an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003. Paul W. Comisky (M.A., University of Massachusetts, 1977) is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003. This study accepted for publication August 8, 1978.

Abstract

The effect on message recall of placing a message within differentially cognitively-involving portions of a complex audiovisual program was examined. In an experimental design that controlled for time of total exposure to stimulus material and for the time interval between exposure to a test message and later recall and interest tests, subjects viewed a program package consisting of a commercial, a pretested segment of an action-adventure program, and an especially created control in one of four conditions of commercial placement: (1) the commercial was placed between two moderately involving portions of the program which occurred a few minutes prior to both the action-climax and the resolution of the suspense, (2) the commercial was placed immediately subsequent to the highly involving climax and immediately prior to the moderately involving resolution, (3) the commercial was placed subsequent to the climax and immediately subsequent to the resolution, or (4) the commercial was placed between two minimally involving portions of the control communication. Assessments of message recall were taken on one-half of the subjects shortly after they had completed viewing the experimental materials. In order to assess for long-term effects, the remainder of the subjects received a similar recall test and a test of interest in the product depicted in the commercial message one month after the experimental viewing session had been completed. The findings supported the proposition that recall of message content is inversely related to the cognitive involvement potential of the program material presented immediately before and after the critical message.

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