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Hormone Oxytocin Predisposes People To Empathize With Ad Messages

November 16, 2010: 01:22 AM EST

Advertisers use images – puppies, babies, etc. – that cause the human brain to release the hormone oxytocin which, new U.S. research finds, makes people more disposed to trust and accept an advertising message. For the study, participants either sniffed a spray of oxytocin or a placebo, then were shown short public service announcements that had aired on television describing the dangers of smoking, alcohol, reckless driving, and global warming. Researchers then asked participants how they felt about the people and issues presented in the ads and gave them  n opportunity to donate some of the money earned from participating in the experiment. People treated with oxytocin donated 56 percent more money to causes presented in the PSAs, and reported that the ads made them feel more empathetic.

"Oxytocin Increases Advertising’s Influence: Hormone Heightened Sensitivity to Public Service Announcements", ScienceDaily , November 16, 2010, © Society for Neuroscience
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