Volume 1, Issue 3 p. 239-260
Original Research Article

Need for Cognition and Advertising: Understanding the Role of Personality Variables in Consumer Behavior

Curtis P. Haugtvedt

Curtis P. Haugtvedt

The Ohio State University, USA

Search for more papers by this author
Richard E. Petty

Richard E. Petty

The Ohio State University, USA

Search for more papers by this author
John T. Cacioppo

John T. Cacioppo

The Ohio State University, USA

Search for more papers by this author
First published: 1992
Citations: 366
Requests for reprints should be sent to Curtis P. Haugtvedt, Department of Marketing, The Ohio State University, 1775 College Road, Columbus, OH 43210.

Abstract

Three studies were conducted to examine the role of need for cognition on attitudes formed as a result of exposure to advertisements. Prior research on need for cognition has used only long messages, counterattitudinal topics, or employed instructions that specifically told participants to evaluate products. Results of our studies reveal that need for cognition also affects the processes of attitude change when no explicit evaluation instructions are provided and when exposures are to relatively short, unfamiliar advertising messages presented in either self-paced or externally controlled formats. Consistent with prior research, attitudes of high need for cognition individuals were based more on an evaluation of product attributes than were the attitudes of low need for cognition persons (Studies 1 and 2). In addition, the attitudes of low need for cognition individuals were based more on simple peripheral cues inherent in the ads than were the attitudes of high need for cognition persons (Study 3). Implications for the study of personality variables in consumer behavior are discussed.