How do consumers look at advertisements? Most marketing textbooks advance the theory that looking at ads is a predominantly "dumb process," driven by visual stimuli such as the size of the ad or the color of the text. However, new research by researchers from the Netherlands and the University of Michigan uses eye-tracking software to reveal that it may be our goals – the tasks we have in mind – that drive what we pay attention to, even during a few seconds of ad exposure.

In the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, Rik Pieters (Tilburg University, The Netherlands) and Michel Wedel (University of Michigan) perform an eye tracking experiment on 220 consumers. The consumers are split into four groups, each with a different goal, and given free rein to view a series of advertisements.

The study is self-paced – that is participants are allowed to look at the ads for as long or as short of a time as they would like. Overall, the participants looked at the 17 target ads in the study for an average of about 4 seconds only – but with notable differences in focus.

Those asked to memorize the ad focused on both the body text and the pictorial representation of the product. Those asked to learn about the brand, on the other hand, paid enhanced attention to the body text but simultaneously ignored the pictorial.

This supports the Yarbus thesis that ad informativeness is goal-contingent. Differences in pupil diameter between ad objects but not between processing goals reflect the pupil's role in maintaining optimal vision.

"The fact that even during the few seconds of self-paced ad exposure, attention patterns already differ markedly between consumers with different goals underlines the importance of controlling and knowing consumers' processing goals in theory building and during advertising pre- and post-testing," the researchers write.

In other words, the eyes are a reflection of consumer goals.


Rik Pieters and Michel Wedel. "Goal Control of Attention to Advertising: The Yarbus Implication," Journal of Consumer Research: August 2007.

Originally from EurekAlert! - Breaking News on August 6, 2007, 9:00pm


The following should appear at the end of every post:

According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":

Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.

Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.

Political Campaign Intervention

Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.

Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.

Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:

  • Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
  • Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
  • Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
  • Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
  • Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office

Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:

  • The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
  • Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
  • We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
  • When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
  • It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
  • We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
  • We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
  • When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
  • We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
  • It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)

  • Subscribe

  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
    This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
    • That's the selfishly driven motivation for wanting to know about advertising. What about the unselfish motivation? Well, the idea is education. How do we inform souls that their goals are good if they are unselfish and evil if they are selfish at their roots?

      How do we arrive at viewing advertisements with this view objectively in mind? Are we able to look at advertisements (proselytizing) and discern whether or not we should succumb to the temptation? Is it tempting us to be righteous or evil? How do we change our goals? Can advertising be used to aid in that process?

      Yes, advertising can be used to call souls to turn to righteousness. Advertising can be used to tempt people to become righteous, to tempt them to be good stewards and shepherds, servants of all, all the good. Advertising can be used to lead people to divert the flow of resources from pure selfishness (personal material wealth) to giving and sharing all with brothers and sisters in righteousness who will further improve the plight of the poor and lost.

      This is what the Real Liberal Christian Church is working to do. Please donate to this most worthy of causes (Jesus's cause). Tithe or better if you are able, if the Holy Spirit gives you to do it, moves your heart to have the real faith to do it. Let us together bring forth the Christian Commons. "Donate" liberally now to the Real Liberal Christian Church Common Treasury to bring forth the Christian Commons. Thank you, and may God bless us all.