Violence and sex impair memory for television ads

J Appl Psychol. 2002 Jun;87(3):557-64. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.87.3.557.


Participants watched a violent, sexually explicit, or neutral TV program that contained 9 ads. Participants recalled the advertised brands. They also identified the advertised brands from slides of supermarket shelves. The next day, participants were telephoned and asked to recall again the advertised brands. Results showed better memory for people who saw the ads during a neutral program than for people who saw the ads during a violent or sexual program both immediately after exposure and 24 hr later. Violence and sex impaired memory for males and females of all ages, regardless of whether they liked programs containing violence and sex. These results suggest that sponsoring violent and sexually explicit TV programs might not be a profitable venture for advertisers.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Advertising*
  • Erotica*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Middle Aged
  • Random Allocation
  • Television*
  • Violence*