Classical conditioning has also found its way into the realms of entertainment. The most notable example of this is the 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange written by Anthony Burgess and it subsequent 1971 movie directed by the late Stanley Kubrick (Internet Movie Database. ) A Clockwork Orange details the activities of a young ultra-violet protagonist named Alex. Alex is “cured” of his evil tendencies via classical conditioning. He is forced to watch various films depicting ultra-violence (US) and the like , and his natural feeling of excitement or joy serves as the UR.
The films are paired with a drug (CS) that makes Alex violently ill. In turn Alex eventually becomes violently ill (now the CR) when he begins to feel the excitement associated with violence. The people treating Alex also utilize galvanic skin response (GSR) to get the optimal results. GSR is used to measure arousal from a stimulus (Hawkins 1998. ) It uses small electrodes attached to the skin that measures minute changes in perspiration. The most well known use for GSR is in the lie detector test (Hawkins 1998. The book brings up certain moral aspects of classical conditioning when used to modify behavior (such as consumer behavior. ) Burgess makes his character out to be programmed, and unable to make choices on his own. It is generally believed that Burgess overstates the power of classical conditioning in the context complete behavior reform. In addition to entertainment, classical conditioning is also used as a marketing tool. Classical conditioning is generally used with low-involvement products (Hawkins 1998. ) This is because classical conditioning is most effective when emotion is involved (Classical Conditioning. Advertising for low-involvement products usually attacks the consumer through affective means because nobody wants to think (cognitive) about purchasing low-involvement products. Advertising and sales promotion (event sponsorship) are the most common forms of classical conditioning in marketing. Classical conditioning is used in a plethora of advertisements. The idea behind it is a simple one. Make an ad (US) that elicits a positive response (UR) in the person exposed to the ad. The product or brand within the ad then becomes the CS.
The goal of advertisers is to get the exposed person at the grocery store or what have you, to associate the positive feeling they had for the ad with the product. This makes the positive feeling now the CR. Event sponsorship is very similar to this. With event sponsorship the sponsor wants the person viewing the event (US) to project the positive feelings (UR) they get from the event with their product. The big advantage to event sponsorship is that the person being exposed has generally chosen to be exposed to the event. Therefore, the positive emotional feeling toward the event can be intense.
This can also be a double-edged sword as well. This occurs when the emotion involved is extremely negative. An example of this is when it is a sporting event, and the exposed person’s favorite team loses. The product could then be associated with those feelings. One area extensively covered with regard to classical conditioning and consumer behavior is the effect of background music. Gerald Gorn can be considered the leader in this research due to his 1982 experiment involving background music and the color of pen chosen as a gift (Kellaris 1989. The experiment involved pairing one pen color with pleasant music, and pairing another pen color with unpleasant music. Several pen colors were tested and ranked on a scale of one to seven. Then two pen colors with similar positions were used in the experiment. The music was picked using a ranking scale as well, except instead of picking two pieces with similar positions, the two selections were on the opposite ends of the spectrum. The subjects then were exposed to slides of the one color pen paired with pleasant music, and the other with unpleasant.
When given a choice the more subjects chose the pen color associated with the pleasant music This study has a major impact because it showed that consumer behavior can be influenced rather easily. The Gorn experiments are not without controversy (mostly regarding the procedures used in the experiment), but the are still very widely accepted and referenced (Kellaris 1989. ) Another area looked at by marketers is how often to repeat the advertisement. This will be looked at in the next section. Low-involvement advertising needs extensive repetition in advertising (Hawkins 1998. This is mostly because people just are not actively searching for information on low-involvement products. This generally means that not a great deal of attention is paid to ads for low-involvement products. The problem with this is a certain amount of diminished return on the ad. The first time the ad is adequately comprehended it is generally as funny, emotional, etc. as it is going to get. From that point on its affect diminishes and the conditioning is not as strong. This encourages companies to advertise in campaigns. This way they don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time out, but they can still remain fresh with ongoing variations.