Do violent social cause advertisements promote social change? An examination of implicit associations

Natalina Zlatevska*, Mark T. Spence

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Violent content is used in social cause advertising campaigns as a means of discouraging antisocial attitudes and behaviors, despite the fact that findings regarding the effectiveness of including violence in advertisements are equivocal. The present research explores the efficacy of violent advertisements by investigating how such ads affect implicit associations with violent words/acts. The importance of implicit associations is that they can affect judgments and behaviors long after explicit memory for the advertisement has decayed. The findings of the research point to the prevalence of individual differences in response to violent ads. Specifically, social cause advertisements are effective in weakening implicit associations with violence for nonaggressive individuals, as would be desired. However, these campaigns strengthen implicit associations for aggressive individuals. Ameliorating their aggressive associations would be advantageous both to the individual and society; however, the results suggest such advertisements make matters worse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-333
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


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