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the more vividly it forces itself on the memory. But if practical
books about the art of advertising usually presuppose that this
influence on the memory will be proportionate to the effect on the
attention, the psychologist cannot fully agree. The advertisement may
attract the attention of the reader strongly and yet by its whole
structure may be unfit to force on the memory its characteristic
content, especially the name of the firm and of the article. The pure
memory-value is especially important, as according to a well-known
psychological law the pleasure in mere recognition readily attaches
itself to the recognized object. The customer who has the choice among
various makes and brands in the store may not have any idea how far
one is superior to another, but the mere fact that one among them
bears a name which has repeatedly approached his consciousness before
through advertisements is sufficient to arouse a certain warm feeling
of acquaintance, and by a transposition of feeling this pleasurable
tone accentuates the attractiveness of that make and leads to its
selection. This indirect help through the memory-value is economically
no less important than the direct service.

In order to produce a strong effect on memory the advertisement must
be easily apprehensible. Psychological laboratory experiments with
exact time-measurement of the grasping of various advertisements of
the same size for the same article, but in different formulations,
demonstrated clearly how much easier or harder the apprehension became
through relatively small changes. No mistake in the construction of
the advertisement causes so much waste as a grouping which makes the
quick apperception difficult. The color, the type, the choice of
words, every element, allows an experimental analysis, especially by
means of time-measurement. If we determine in thousandths of a second
the time needed to recognize the characteristic content of an
advertisement, we may discriminate differences which would escape the
naïve judgment, and yet which in practical life are of considerable
consequence, as the effect of a deficiency is multiplied by the number
of readers.

We must insist on the further demand that the advertisement make a
vivid impression, so that it may influence the memory through its
vividness. Size is naturally the most frequent condition for the
increase of vividness, but only the relative size is decisive. The
experiment shows that the full-page advertisement in a folio magazine
does not influence the memory more than the full page in a quarto
magazine, if the reader is for the time adjusted to the particular
size. No less important than the size is the originality and the
unusual form, the vivid color, the skillful use of empty spaces, the
associative elements, the appeal to humor or to curiosity, to sympathy
or to antipathy. Every emotion can help to impress the content of the
advertisement on the involuntary memory. Unusual announcements
concerning the prices or similar factors move in the same direction.

Together with the question of the apprehension and the vividness of
the impression, we must acknowledge the frequency of repetition as an
equally important factor. We know from daily life how an indifferent
advertisement can force itself on our mind, if it appears daily in the
same place in the newspaper or is visible on every street corner. But
the psychologically decisive factor here is not the fact of the mere
repetition of the impression, but rather the stimulation of the
attention which results from the repetition. If we remained simply
passive and received the impression the second and third and fourth
time with the same indifference with which we noticed it the first
time, the mere summation would not be sufficient for a strong effect.
But the second impression makes the consciousness of recognition,
thus exciting the attention, and through it we now turn actively to
the repeated impression which forces itself on our memory with
increased vividness on account of this active personal reaction.

We may consider how such factors can be tested by the psychotechnical
experiment. Scott, for instance, studied the direct influence of the
relative size of the advertisements.[50] He constructed a book of a
hundred pages from advertisements which had been cut from various
magazines and which referred to many different articles. Fifty persons
who did not know anything about the purpose of the experiment had to
glance over the pages of the book as they would look though the
advertising parts of a monthly. The time which they used for it was
about ten minutes. As soon as they had gone through the hundred pages,
they were asked to write down what they remembered. The result from
this method was that the 50 persons mentioned on an average every
full-page advertisement 6-1/2 times, every half-page less than 3
times, every fourth-page a little more than 1 time, and the still
smaller advertisements only about 1/7 time. This series of experiments
suggested accordingly that the memory value of a fourth-page
advertisement is much smaller than one fourth of the memory-value of
a full-page advertisement, and that of an eighth-page again much
smaller than one half of the psychical value of a fourth-page. The
customer who pays for one eighth of a page receives not the eighth
part, but hardly the twentieth part of the psychical influence which
is produced by a full page.

These experiments, which were carried on in various forms, demanded as
a natural supplement a study of the effects of repetition in relation
to size. This was the object of a series of tests which I carried on
recently in the Harvard laboratory. I constructed the following
material: 60 sheets of Bristol board in folio size were covered with
advertisements which were cut from magazines the size of the "Saturday
Evening Post" and the "Ladies' Home Journal." We used advertisements
ranging from full-page to twelfth-page in size. Every one of the 6
full-page advertisements which we used occurred only once, each of the
12 half-page advertisements was given 2 times, each of the fourth-page
size, 4 times, each of the eighth-page size, 8 times, and each of the
twelfth-page size, 12 times. The repetitions were cut from 12 copies
of the magazine number. The same advertisement never occurred on the
same page; every page, unless it was covered by a full-page
advertisement, offered a combination of various announcements. It is
evident that by this arrangement every single advertisement occupied
the same space, as the 8 times repeated eighth-page advertisement
filled a full page too. Thus no one of the 60 announcements which we
used was spatially favored above another.

Thirty persons took part in the experiment. Each one had to devote
himself to the 60 pages in such a way that every page was looked at
for exactly 20 seconds. Between each two pages was a pause of 3
seconds, sufficient to allow one sheet to be laid aside and the next
to be grasped. In 23 minutes the whole series had been gone through,
and immediately after that every one had to write down what he
remembered, both the names of the firms and the article announced. In
the cases where only the name or only the article was correctly
remembered, the result counted 1/2. We found great individual
differences, probably not only because the memory of the different
persons was different, but also because they varied in the degree of
interest with which they looked at such material. The smallest number
of reproductions was 18, of which 14 were only half remembered, that
is, only the name or only the article, and as we counted these half
reproductions 1/2, the memory-value for this person was counted 11.
The maximum reproduction was 46, of which 6 were half remembered.

If these calculated values are added and the sum divided by the number
of participants, that is, 30, and this finally by the number of the
advertisements shown, that is, 60, we obtain the average memory-value
of a single advertisement. The results showed that this was 0.44. But
our real interest referred to the distribution for the advertisements
of different size. If we make the same calculation, not for the
totality of the advertisements but for those of a particular size, we
find that the memory-value for the full-page advertisement was 0.33,
for the 2 times repeated half-page advertisement, 0.30, for the 4
times repeated fourth-page advertisement, 0.49, for the 8 times
repeated eighth-page advertisement, 0.44, and for the 12 times
repeated twelfth-page advertisement, 0.47. Hence we come to the result
that the 4 times repeated fourth-page advertisement as 1-1/2 times
stronger than one offering of a full-page, or the 2 times repeated
half-page, but that this relation does not grow with a further
reduction of the size. Two thirds of the subjects were men and one
third women. On the whole, the same relation exists for both groups,
but the climax of psychical efficiency was reached in the case of the
men by the 4 times repeated fourth-page, in the case of the women by
the 8 times repeated eighth-page. The 4 times repeated fourth-page in
the case of the women was 0.45, in the case of the men, 0.51, the 8
times repeated eighth-page, women, 0.53, men, 0.37.

I am inclined to believe that the ascent of the curve of the
memory-value from the full-page to the fourth-page or eighth-page
would have been still more continuous, if the whole-page
advertisements had not naturally been such as are best known to the
American reader. The whole-page announcement, therefore, had a certain
natural advantage. But when we come to another calculation, even the
effect of this advantage is lost. We examined the relations for the
first 10 names and articles, which every one of the 30 persons wrote
down. These first 10 were mostly dashed down quickly without special
thought. They also included only a few half reproductions. When we
study these 300 answers which the 30 persons wrote as their first 10
reproductions, and calculate from them the chances which every one of
the 60 advertisements had for being remembered, we obtain the
following values: The probability of being remembered among the first
10 was for the full-page advertisement, 0.5, for the half-page 2 times
repeated, 1.2, for the fourth-page 4 times repeated, 2.9, for the
eighth-page 8 times repeated, 2.3, and for the twelfth-page 12 times
repeated, 2.4. The superiority of repetition over mere size appears
most impressively in this form, but we see again in this series that
the effect decreases even with increased number of repetitions as soon
as the single advertisement sinks below a certain relative size, so
that the 12 times repeated twelfth-page advertisement does not possess
the memory-value of the 4 times repeated fourth-page advertisement. If
Scott's experiments concerning the size and these experiments of mine
concerning the repetition are right, the memory-value of the
advertisements for economic purposes is dependent upon complicated
conditions. A business man who brings out a full-page advertisement
once in a paper which has 100,000 readers would leave the desired
memory-impression on a larger number of individuals than if he were to
print a fourth-page advertisement in four different cities in four
local papers, each of which has 100,000 readers. But if he uses the
same paper in one town, he would produce a much greater effect by
printing a fourth of a page four times than by using a full-page
advertisement once only.

As a matter of course this would hold true only as far as size and
repetition are concerned. Many other factors have to be considered
besides. Some of these could even be studied with our material. We
could study from our results what memory-value is attached to the
various forms of type or suggestive words, what influence to
illustrations, how far they reinforce the impressiveness and how far
they draw away the attention from the name and the object, how these
various factors influence men and women differently, and so on. Other
questions, however, demand entirely different forms of experiment. We
may examine the effects of special contrast phenomena, of unusual
background, of irregular borders and original headings. The particular
position of the advertisement also deserves our psychological
interest. The magazines receive higher prices for the cover pages and
the newspapers for advertisements which are surrounded by reading
matter. In both cases obvious practical motives are decisive. The
cover page comes into the field of vision more frequently. What is
surrounded by reading matter is less easily overlooked.

But the newspaper world hardly realizes how much other variations of
position influence the psychological effect. Starch[51] made
experiments in which he did not use real advertisements, but
meaningless syllables so as to exclude the influence of familiarity
with any announcement. He arranged little booklets, each of 12 pages,
on which a syllable such as _lod_, _zan_, _mep_, _dut_, _yib_, and so
on was printed in the middle of each page. Each of his 50 subjects
glanced over the book and then wrote down what syllables remained in
memory. He found that the syllables which stood on the first and last
page were remembered by 34 persons, those on the second and eleventh
by about 26, and those on the eight other pages by an average of 17
persons. In the next experiment he printed one syllable in the middle
of the upper and one in the middle of the lower half of each page. The
results now showed that of those syllables which were remembered 54
per cent stood on the upper half and 46 per cent on the lower half of
the page. Finally, he divided every page into four parts and printed
one syllable on the middle of each fourth of a page. The results
showed that of the remembered syllables 28 per cent stood on the
left-hand upper fourth, 33 per cent on the right-hand upper fourth, 16
per cent left-hand lower, and 23 per cent right-hand lower. A
fourth-page advertisement which is printed on the outer side of the
upper half of the page thus probably has more than twice the
psychological value of one which is printed on the inner side of the
lower half. The economic world spends millions every year for
advertisements on the upper right-hand side and millions for
advertisements on the lower left-hand side, and is not aware that one
represents twice the value of the other. These little illustrations
of advertisement experiments may suffice to indicate how much
haphazard methods are still prevalent in the whole field of economic
psychotechnics, methods which would not be tolerated in the sphere of
physical and chemical technology.




XXI

THE EFFECT OF DISPLAY


If we turn from the simple newspaper advertisement to the means of
propaganda in general, we at once stand before a question which is
often wrongly answered. The practical handbooks of advertisements and
means of display treat it as a self-evident fact that every
presentation should be as beautiful as possible. In the first place,
we cannot deny that the ugly and even the disgusting possess a strong
power for attracting attention. Yet it is true that by a transposition
of feelings the displeasure in the advertisement may easily become a
displeasure in the advertised object. But, on the other hand, it is
surely a mistake to believe that pure beauty best fulfills the
function of the advertisement. Even the draftsman who draws a poster
ought to give up the ambition to create a perfect picture. It might
have the power to attract attention, but it would hardly serve its
true purpose of fixing the attention on the article which is
advertised by the picture. The very meaning of beauty lies in its
self-completeness. The beautiful picture rests in itself and does not
point beyond itself. A really beautiful landscape painting is an end
in itself, and must not stir up the practical wish to visit the
landscape which has stimulated the eye of the painter. If the display
is to serve economic interests, every line and every curve, every form
and every color, must be subordinated to the task of leading to a
practical resolution, and to an action, and yet this is exactly the
opposite of the meaning of art. Art must inhibit action, if it is
perfect. The artist is not to make us believe that we deal with a real
object which suggests a practical attitude. The æsthetic forms are
adjusted to the main æsthetic aim, the inhibition of practical
desires. The display must be pleasant, tasteful, harmonious, and
suggestive, but should not be beautiful, if it is to fulfill its
purpose in the fullest sense. It loses its economic value, if by its
artistic quality it oversteps the boundaries of that middle region of
arts and crafts. This of course stands in no contradiction to the
requirement that the advertised article should be made to appear as
beautiful as possible. The presentation of something beautiful is not
necessarily a beautiful presentation, just as a perfectly beautiful
picture need not have something beautiful as its content. A perfect
painting may be the picture of a most ugly person.

We have not yet spoken of the suggestive power of the means of
propaganda. Every one knows the influence on taste and smell, on
social vanity, on local pride, on the gambling instinct, on the
instinctive fear of diseases, and above all on the sexual instinct,
can gain suggestive power. Everywhere among the uncritical masses such
appeals reach individuals whose psychophysical attitudes make such
influences vivid and overpowering. Every one knows, too, those often
clever linguistic forms which are to aid the suggestion. They are to
inhibit the opposing impulses. The mere use of the imperative, to be
sure, has gradually become an ineffective, used-up pattern. It is a
question for special economic psychotechnics to investigate how the
suggestive strength of a form can be reinforced or weakened by various
secondary influences. What influence, for example, belongs to the
electric sign advertisements in which the sudden change from light to
darkness produces strong psychophysical effects, and what value
belongs to moving parts in the picture?

The psychologist takes the same interest in the examples of window
displays, sample distributions, and similar vehicles of commerce by
which the offered articles themselves and not their mere picture or
description are to influence the consciousness of the prospective
customer. Here, too, every element may be isolated and may be brought
under psychotechnical rules. The most external question would refer to
the mere quantity of the presented material. The psychologist would
ask how the mere mass of the offering influences the attention, how
far the feeling of pleasure in the fullness, how far the æsthetic
impression of repetition, how far the associative thought of a
manifold selection, how far the mere spatial expansion, affects the
impression. In any case, as soon as it is acknowledged as desirable to
produce with certain objects the impression of the greatest possible
number, the experimental psychologist stands before the concrete
problem of how a manifoldness of things is to be distributed so that
it will not be underestimated, perhaps even overestimated as to
quantity. Again, the laboratory experiment would not proceed with real
window displays or real exhibitions, but would work out the principle
with the simplified experimental means.

An investigation in the Harvard laboratory, for instance, tested the
influence which various factors have upon the estimation of a number
of objects seen.[52] The question was how far the form or the size or
the distribution makes a group of objects appear larger or smaller.
The experiment was started by showing 20 small cards on a black
background in comparison with another group of cards the number of
which varied between 17 and 23. At first the form of these little
cards was changed: triangles, squares, and circles were tried. Or the
color was changed: light and dark, saturated and unsaturated colors
were used. Or the order was varied: sometimes the little cards lay in
regular rows, sometimes in close clusters, sometimes widely
distributed, sometimes in quite irregular fashion. Or the background
was changed, or the surrounding frame, or the time of exposure, and so
on. Each time the subjects had to estimate whether the second group
was the larger or equal or the smaller. These experiments indicated
that such comparative estimation was indeed influenced by every one of
the factors mentioned. If the experiments show that an irregular
distribution makes the number appear larger or a close clustering
reduces the apparent number, and so on, the business man would be
quite able to profit from such knowledge. The jeweler who shows his
rings and watches in his window wishes to produce with his small stock
the impression of an ample supply. He lacks the psychology which might
teach him whether he would act more wisely in having the rings and the
watches separated, or whether he should mix the two, whether he ought
to choose a background which is similar in color or one which
contrasts with the pieces exhibited, whether he ought to present the
single object in a special background as in a case, or to show it
without one. He is not aware that by simple psychological illusions,
it is not difficult to change the apparent size of an isolated object
by special treatment, making his show-piece appear larger by a fitting
background or intentionally making a dainty object appear smaller by
contrasting surroundings. These, to be sure, are very trivial
illustrations, but the same fundamental psychological laws which are
true for the show-window of the next corner store are true for the
world-display of the nation. The point is to present clearly the idea,
which can be most simply expressed in such trivial material. But it
may be added that even in the case of the most indifferent example a
few hasty experiments with one or two subjects cannot yield any
results of value.

All parts of physiological psychological optics can contribute similar
material. The questions of color harmony and color contrast, light
intensity and mutual support of uniformly colored objects, of
irradiation, depth and perspective, are significant for an effective
display in the show-window, and the laboratory results can easily be
translated into psychotechnical prescriptions. But here it is still
more necessary to separate carefully the merely optical impression
from its æsthetic side. All that we claimed as to the poster is still
more justified for the presentation of the saleable objects
themselves. As soon as the display of the articles forms a real work
of art, it must produce inhibitions in the soul of the spectator by
which the practical economic desire is turned aside. Beauty here too
has strong power of attraction, and moreover the suggestive power, by
which it withdraws our senses from the chance surroundings, forces us
to lose ourselves in the offered presentation. But just through this
process the content of the display becomes isolated and separated from
the world of our practical interests. Our desires are brought to
silence, we do not seek a personal relation to the things which we
face as admiring spectators, and the intended economic effect is
therefore eliminated. Whoever is to examine the psychotechnics of
displays and exhibitions must therefore study the psychology of
æsthetic stimulation, of suggestion, of the effects of light, color,
form and movement, of apperception and attention, and ought not to
forget the psychology of humor and curiosity, of instincts and
emotions. For us the essential point is that here too the experimental
psychological method alone is able to lead from mere chance
arrangements founded on personal taste to the systematic construction
which secures with the greatest possible certainty the greatest
possible mental effect in the service of the economic purpose.

The problems of the storekeeper who arranges his windows, however,
overlap the problems of the manufacturer who prepares his goods for
the world-market, and who must from the start take care that the outer
appearance of his goods stimulate the readiness to buy. In factories
in which these questions have been carefully considered, the
psychological elements have always been found to be the most
influential, but often the most puzzling. I received material from a
number of industrial plants which sold the same article in a variety
of packings. The material which was sent to me included all kinds of


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