Advertising and media are two important tools which influence perceptions, attitudes and values of children. Thus, in many cases these influences are not positive and beneficial for children. Critics admit that parents have long been concerned about how many commercials their children are exposed to on television. Interpretation of negative images and ideologies depends on varying aspects of selective exposure, perception, and retention -- combined with our own unique demographic and psychographic composition. Part of the psychological experience of the buyer's intervening variables provides a frame of reference for interpreting stimuli and acts as internal organizing processes. Thesis In spite of its informative and enlightenment mission, media and advertising exploits children and create negative and false images of reality.
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Advertising exploits children portraying false benefits of products and persuading children to try a new product (a toy, game or food) In children, the desire for achievement does not wane. Needs and wants proliferate continuously. The major portion of this increase may arise from learned as distinguished from biophysical needs. Markets are dynamic, and saturation does not automatically occur (Dens 8). When children achieve their purchase goals such as two automobiles, a color television set, and a washer-dryer, they are confronted with new sets of learned need. Aspirations are affected by the probability or possibility of attaining an objective. We consciously strive to do only that which might conceivably be attained. If attainment is impossible, little or no motivation exists. Children as consumers become motivated to amass the resources to make such purchases. On the other hand, helicopters and yachts, since they are still financially out of reach of most, are really not "wanted" by most. The researchers found that preschoolers: “are unlikely to be able to put the violence in context, since they are likely to miss any subtlety conveyed mitigating information concerning motivation and consequences” (Josephson n.d.). In marketing situations children appear to adjust their levels of aspiration. With an increase in income and achievement of certain objectives, they seem desirous of moving up to higher levels of consumption. Often they exceed the income levels they had originally anticipated. Then, having shifted their levels of aspiration upward, they become dissatisfied with their products and environments. New learned needs become important, and an upward adjustment in goals occurs that continues as higher incomes are realized. Children readily aspire to new products and replace those that are still functioning properly. Their dissatisfaction has nothing to do with the product's utility; it is simply socially and psychologically engendered. Often design, color, or styling may be sufficient to prompt the desire to change products (Moore 161).
Children hold images of institutions. Images of retail-store characteristics or personalities affect shopping behavior. Sensory impressions result in children’s attributing distinct personality characteristics to retail units. Some stores reflect the bargain basement, discount atmosphere, whereas others reflect an atmosphere of elegance, luxury, affluence, and sophistication. “If younger children’s behavior is being influenced by advertising, yet they are not entirely clear as to what advertising is then advertisers should be concerned with the ethics of social responsibility, as a vulnerable section of society” (Preston 63). The store image stems from such diverse factors as advertisements, sales personnel, merchandise, services, pricing strategies, physical plant, and layout. Research findings seem to indicate that children choose to shop at stores and purchase brands consistent with their own personalities (Pettersson and Fjellstrom 14).
Much of children’s overt behavior is learned. Helping to alter our patterns of action and to enrich our experiences, learning influences buyer and children behavior. Learning is accomplished through increasing insight and knowledge, and affects attitudes, opinions, feelings, motives, beliefs, expectations, and social values. A variety of sensory stimuli including television, radio, newspapers, and magazines helps customers learn, thereby influencing their purchase decisions. Learning also requires constant reinforcement. Through reinforcement, habits are formed and response patterns set so that they become automatic. Habitual behavior is evidenced where goods of a nondurable nature, such as food products, are purchased regularly. “Children being eager to have their meal at a particular restaurant may therefore not have anything to do with the food in particular, rather wanting the gift following kids’ meals” (Pettersson and Fjellstrom 14). Children have learned the types of products and brands that best satisfy family wants and needs, and automatic purchasing patterns evolve. Drives, wants, aspirations, tastes, and images are acquired and can be learned. Some are "learned" very early in life but change through time, a learning process has taken place (Preston 64). The fact is that through the repetition of performance or information, children learn. In media and advertising, the image is a representation in the brain of some sensory experience received from a variety of sources, including advertising, salesmen, packaging, price, retailers, and opinions. “By conducting responsible marketing emotional bonds are formed with the individual. Responsible marketing and relationship marketing can thus be seen as part of each other as establishing an ethically correct image among customers is a way of earning customer loyalty “(Pettersson and Fjellstrom 16). When brands, products, or stores are experienced by the senses, an image is elicited that can be most influential in consumption behavior. The impact of brand images on consumption has been investigated. Children of a brand perceive themselves differently from non-consumers, and also perceive their brand as different from others. Product imagery is closely related to brand imagery, and brand names are often chosen to help elicit a desired product image. Research has shown that prunes carry the image of being dried out, worn out, wrinkled, ugly, old-aged things used only as laxatives, and are a plebeian symbol without prestige (Pettersson and Fjellstrom 15).
Children would react in accordance with their perception of the change. Thus, the concept of intervening variables explains that marketing action does not affect all consumers in a simple or direct manner. The nature and makeup of intervening variables change through time because individuals expand their experiences and learn. Given the same stimuli, individual consumers may react differently at different periods of time. The manner in which children perceive, understand, and interpret various stimuli and react to them differs in each individual (Moore 163). Aspirations and expectations are linked directly to children motivation, behavior, and achievement. Indeed, the desire to achieve is a strong factor in economic accomplishment. There is something in the customs, institutions, and motives of men that accounts for substantial achievement in some areas and lack of achievement in others. Achievement leads to gratification of needs. Need gratification, it might be postulated, reduces or eliminates needs and also results in the reduction of levels of aspiration. In essence, however, the opposite is true (Pettersson and Fjellstrom 15).
In sum, advertising and media has a diverse impact on children helping them to socialize but creating negative images of products and reality. Even the perceptions of various goods are subjected to change on the basis of experience and influence future actions and concepts. Most psychological theories concerned with learning, however, focus on rather simple situations. Many deal with rats and learning in a maze. Children behavior is more complex. Psychological influences play an important role in purchase decisions, because willingness to buy, a significant component of demand, is dependent on more than income.
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