Psychology in Advertising; the “Second Order Conditioning”

When creating effective advertising, you have to consider what people want to see, hear, eat, feel, and smell. You essentially have to figure out what people are thinking to appeal to as many senses as possible. You have to give the people what they want. Psychological theories have been applied to many aspects of advertising when considering how people respond and behave. The more advertisers understand the motives and demands of their consumers, the better they design their products and promote them.

The main theory that is brought up when discussing advertising is the classical conditioning theory of associative learning.  This type of learning incorporates the occurrence of one stimulus (conditioned stimulus) that then calls for another stimulus (unconditioned stimulus), which then elicits for a response.  Pavlov, a world-renowned psychologist, created this theory to account for associations between learned stimuli and responses.

When taking into consideration this school of thought, advertisers try to pair their product with other positive stimuli such as attractive women and men, music, humor, and cool colors. These positive stimuli can be used in a number of ways but all supposedly generate associations.

For example, Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein have notoriously associated their brand to extremely attractive women to arouse consumers. Not only does it attract men for obvious reasons, it also attracts women because they want to be wanted like the women in these photographs. Classical conditioning is what drives the se of these stimuli to motivate responses in buyers.