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The Influence of Mere Social Presence on Message Reception



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The article presents three experiments that investigate the consequences of social context–seeing an ad alone or in company of another person–for message reception. We propose that people are intrinsically motivated to make a good impression on others in social situations and that priming the goal of social desirability can affect cognitive activity. Using a lexical decision task, two experiments demonstrate that the mere presence of a person of the opposite gender increases goal accessibility. Participants were relatively faster at identifying words related to social desirability in the presence of another person, but they were relatively faster at identifying words neutral with respect to this goal when alone. This difference in the accessibility of the goal of social desirability had important implications for recall memory, which mirrored the relative shift in reaction times. A third experiment generalized the memory findings to an advertising setting.

Publication Research Centre

Centre for Marketing

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Centre for Marketing Working Paper

Available on ECCH


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