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Your attention is what every advertiser wants, not necessarily because they want to change your mind, but simply because they want to reinforce opinions you may already hold. Repetitive attention to their product breeds familiarity and can steer individual choices at a later time. The use of imagery builds this cognitive phenomena quickly.

“One of the best ways of doing this is to present an intriguing image or better yet, some kind of incongruity. Studies of visual attention show that our eyes are automatically drawn to the presence of something that seems out of place—for instance, an octopus in the middle of a drawing of a barnyard scene. Many advertisements today contain visual elements of incongruity as a way of convincing our brains that the image is one that needs closer inspection” (Pallardy, 2013).

Increasing personal media literacy can lend a layer of defense to these types of distractions/ploys. The more you understand, the more you can turn it off.


Pallardy, R. (2013, July 29). How Mad Men Get Inside Your Head: An Interview with Linguist and Cognitive Scientist Julie Sedivy. Retrieved July 29, 2013, from Encyclopedia Britannica: http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2013/07/how-mad-men-get-inside-your-head-an-interview-with-linguist-and-cognitive-scientist-julie-sedivy/