Understanding Responses to Comedic Advertising Aggression: The Role of Vividness and Gender Identity

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As the use of comedic aggression in advertising has become more frequent, questions about the boundary conditions of its effectiveness become more important. Issues related to the vividness of the aggression, unique audience responses, and legitimacy of the aggression are examined here as potential influences on the impact of comedic advertising aggression. Two experiments are reported that explore how reactions to comedic advertising aggression are influenced by components of vividness (concreteness – aggressive intensity, emotional interest – psychological distance), the audience's gender identity, and whether the aggression was provoked and justified. Feminine identity individuals in close psychological situations react quite negatively to advertising using the highest level of comedic aggression while masculine identity individuals actually prefer the most vivid aggression in some conditions. The response patterns become different for feminine and masculine identity individuals when the aggression is unprovoked and therefore less justified. The results provide guidance about the limits of using comedic advertising aggression.



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