Monash University
monash63215.pdf (2.22 MB)

Factors that optimise the credibility of advertisements whilst promoting feelings of emotional well-being and satisfaction

Download (2.22 MB)
posted on 2017-01-15, 23:55 authored by Duck, Nicholas
The aim of this thesis is to demonstrate that advertisements that challenge the security of consumers can undermine the impact and lasting influence of these messages. Conversely, advertisements could be used to evoke feelings of security and enhance emotional well-being whilst optimising the credibility and impact of messages. Specifically, research demonstrates that advertisements might elicit different motivational styles, referred to as an individual’s regulatory focus. The credibility of advertisements might be maximised by ensuring messages align to the regulatory focus of consumers. A series of studies was undertaken to assess these propositions. In summary, participants were undergraduate students and individuals from a range of opportunistic samples who completed a series of online surveys, including rating advertisements that were developed for the purpose of this research. The first study examined whether constructs associated with determinants of security align with the regulatory focus of individuals. Consistent with hypotheses, a promotion focus—which is characterised by a focus on gains, achievements and aspirations—was positively related to determinants of security, such as self esteem, a secure attachment style, and a belief in a just world. A prevention focus—characterised by a focus on immediate obligations and potential losses—was negatively associated with these determinants. An exploratory path analysis revealed that the capacity to self-regulate negative affect, such as anxiety and agitation, might reduce a prevention focus, thus enhancing feelings of security. The studies also investigated whether advertisements can be tailored to align with the regulatory focus of individuals—referred to as regulatory fit—which in turn may evoke a promotion focus. Supporting these hypotheses, after exposure to advertisements designed to evoke regulatory fit, individuals preferred advertisements that highlighted gains and broad, abstract concepts, which are preferred by individuals who adopt a promotion focus. In contrast, regulatory non-fit appeared to elicit a prevention focus and preferences for losses and details. In short, regulatory fit might temper a prevention focus and evoke a promotion focus, promulgating feelings of security. Our studies also examined whether regulatory fit might increase the third-person effect—in which individuals feel they are less susceptible to advertisements than are other people. Consistent with hypotheses, across three studies we demonstrated that advertisements that primed regulatory fit induced the third-person effect. Regulatory fit might activate a need to self-enhance, rather than conform, and this need may motivate the individual to distance themselves from other individuals, as demonstrated by the third-person effect. The studies also investigated whether regulatory fit could also evoke positive emotions. An implicit measure of emotion, the Implicit Positive and Negative Affect Test (IPANAT), was used to gauge emotion. Across two studies—and supporting hypotheses—we revealed that, after viewing advertisements designed to prime regulatory fit, participants were more likely to manifest positive emotions, as indicated by the IPANAT. The same improvement in emotion was not detected using a traditional self-report measure of emotion. Individuals who can self-regulate their emotions are assumed to be more capable of accessing a cognitive system that stores personally meaningful and enduring preferences, referred to as extension memory. In our studies, participants reporting a greater capacity to self-regulate also reported more satisfaction with their purchases. In another study, before rating a series of advertisements, participants completed an activity assumed to activate or reduce access to extension memory. One week later, only participants who had initially completed the activity designed to activate extension memory also reported an increased preference for the same advertisements. In summary, regulatory fit may increase the credibility and favourability of advertisements whilst evoking feelings of security, improving emotional well-being, and enhancing decision making.


Principal supervisor

Simon Moss

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Psychological Sciences

Additional Institution or Organisation


Campus location



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences