by Donna L. Roberts, PhD


Advertising is everywhere the modern environment – on radio and television, in magazines and newspapers, on billboards, on buildings, on public transportation, on the clothing, shoes and accessories of sports and entertainment figures and strategically placed in films and television shows.  Far from being a passive mirror of society and reflection of already established consumer needs, advertising exerts influence that is cumulative, often subtle and at least partially unconscious.  If the average American is inundated with over 3000 ads per day, which are theorized to influence and manipulate his/her behavior, then a thorough understanding of this powerful persuader is certainly in the best interest of behavioral researchers, clinical practitioners and certainly the individuals themselves (Du Plessis, 2005; Kilbourne, 1999; Vollmer & Precourt, 2008).

Understanding individual differences in response to external stimuli would contribute to a better understanding of both these differences and how the process of influence and persuasion work in our daily lives.  This could have impact on how society chooses to ethically regulate the distribution of and exposure to mass communications.  Minimally, it could give individuals the information necessary to self-regulate the persuasive influences in which they are so fully immersed in today’s society.  More fully understanding how particular types of messages carry more or less influence with differing personalities could also be potentially useful in a variety of clinical settings – for example in shaping more effective assessment measures and subsequent approaches to therapy and counseling that take personality into consideration.


Du Plessis, E. (2008). The advertised mind: Ground-breaking insights into how our brains respond to advertising. Sterling, VA: Millward Brown.  

Kilbourne, J. (1999). Deadly persuasion: Why women and girls must fight the addictive power of advertising. Boston, MA: Free Press.

Vollmer, C., & Precourt, G. (2008). Always on: Advertising, marketing and media in an era of consumer control. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.