Emotional response to television commercials: Facial EMG vs. self-report

Richard L. Hazlett, Sasha Yassky Hazlett

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    113 Scopus citations


    As television commercials increasingly contain emotional elements designed both to get the viewer's attention and to communicate the advertising message, copy pretesting is challenged to evaluate the potential effectiveness of these emotionally stimulating commercials and their success at eliciting the intended emotional responses. Standard copy measures, however, do not yield such informative results about emotional responses to commercials. In order to meet this challenge for copy pretesting, we measured the emotional responses to a series of television commercials of both females and males using self-report and facial EMG, a validated emotion measure used in academic research. We hypothesized that facial EMG, as compared to self-report, would be a more sensitive discriminator between commercials, would be more strongly related to recall, and peaks in facial EMG responses elicited during the commercial would be temporally related to specific emotion-congruent events in the commercial. The results strongly supported all of our hypotheses and illustrated the promise of facial EMG measures in advertising research and copy pretesting in particular. Facial EMG measures can reflect a qualitative richness and complexity of the viewer's emotional response that self-report measures cannot and, at the same time, offer precise and continuous quantitative data.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)7-23
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Advertising Research
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Mar 1 1999

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Communication
    • Marketing


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