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Suspense and Advertising Responses

Linda F. Alwitt
Journal of Consumer Psychology
Vol. 12, No. 1 (2002), pp. 35-49
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1480567
Page Count: 15
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Suspense and Advertising Responses
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Abstract

Suspense is a cognitive and emotional reaction that is evoked by time-dependent structural characteristics of an unfolding dramatic narrative. Suspense within narratives is defined and its structural antecedents, based on characteristics of suspense that have been studied within the context of film and fiction, are identified. Results of three studies offer evidence that suspenseful commercials can be identified and discriminated from other types of commercials. As they watch, viewers of suspenseful commercials show a combination of hope and fear emotional responses. A parameter of online hope and fear responses is positively correlated with attitude toward the ad for suspenseful, but not for nonsuspenseful, commercials. Perceptions of suspense-related characteristics predict attitude toward the ad for suspenseful commercials, but are 1 of several predictors for nonsuspenseful commercials. A negative aspect of suspenseful commercials is that there is less brand-content integration.

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