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The Psychological Imbibition of Advertisement- An Analysis


When you think of a product the first thing that comes to your mind is the shape and the way it looks (packaging), Advertising plays an important role in creating that image in one’s mind. Since its beginning in the early 1800 advertisement has been the most influential and crucial element for every organization. It “dominates the media, it has vast power in the shaping of popular standards, and it is really one of the very limited groups of institutions which exercise social control” (Potter, 1954, p. 167). For most people, it is impossible to ignore the marketing of any product. Television is the major source of promotion the products. We come across thousands of TV commercials throughout the year (Hacker, 1984). In today’s world with the invention of smartphones and the internet, we are being bombarded with advertisements. Media also uses internet-related technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to advertise products. Media also try to use new ways of promoting the products to get the attention of the customers. The fundamental motives in advertising are to create an image with the characteristic of the product/service in a way that influences the purchase intention of consumers.

Throughout history advertisers and scholars have been discussing the use of advertising appeals and product categories with regard to consumer behavior, purchase intentions, and cross-cultural differences. It has been argued that the media portrays the specific motivations and needs within the advertising campaigns to get more attention of the customer toward the product. Studies have given a huge in-depth understanding of how people react and interact with diverse forms of advertisements and based on which advertising itself has evolved into more customizable and more specifically targeted to consumers, but so far there has been very less research on how the use of advertising appeals and products categories influence on the basic human evolutionary trait i.e. 1) evasion of bodily harm 2) to avoid the onset of disease 3) to make new friends 4) to attain good status 5) to acquire a mate 6) to keep a mate and 7) to care for family (Griskevicius & Kenrick, 2013).

In order to understand today’s world’s motives behind advertising, it is very important to connect it to our ancestral traits. The way they evolved and survived over time by following the basic intrinsic survival rules. In today’s world though might not be visible but we still, use the very same survival techniques in our day-to-day life. This leaves us with a question on does advertising agencies today use fundamental motives and “do the advertisements that use fundamental motives perform better than the non-fundamental motives”

Problem Statement

This paper tries to explore the possibility of whether any fundamental motives get activated after watching an advertisement and if so, they are triggered by which cues. The aim is to find out the connection between the fundamental motives and ad performance

Relevance / Importance of the topic

Addressing the aforementioned problem will help managers and marketers around the world who seek to advertise their brands and products. Understanding the fundamental motives will give an insight into consumer psychology as to which cues trigger the motives, enabling the marketers to advertise the brand more precisely according to the cues.

Aim of the Study

Previous research by Griskevicius and T.Kenrick (2013) has provided literature regarding how fundamental motives influence consumer behavior. This paper aims to build up on that literature by diverting the fundamental motives framework in advertising to analyze its effectiveness, for this purpose a content analysis will be conducted, and with the help of coding, it will determine the effects of the ads on the coders. The results of the coders will then be discussed in detail.

Chain of Arguments Constructed

The study has been divided into 6 parts:

Part 1 includes the introduction of the topic, the problem statement and its significance, the aim of the study, and its assumptions have also been stated.

Part 2 builds up the Conceptual framework of the research by reviewing the existing literature available on the fundamental motive framework and evolutionary psychology with regard to the advertisements and then extracting the hypothesis which will be tested in the following part

Part 3 discusses the methodology of the research. It discusses what kind of content analysis we will be carrying out, and how will the coding scheme be used to satisfy our question. Further taking into account data collection procedures.

Part 4 analysis the result of the tests on the hypothesis. It includes descriptive statistics of the data that was collected and tested significant and non-significant results are mentioned here.

Part 5 contains a discussion of the results which were described in the previous part. These results are analyzed and the discussion of the impact of the independent variable (IV) on the dependent variable (DV) is conducted.

Part 6 concludes the study by providing a summary of the findings and the conclusion of the research conducted. It also provides the implications of the study and recommendations for marketers and managers of advertising companies. We have discussed the limitations of our study and provided direction for future research implications in this chapter as well.


Literature Review

Evolutionary psychology. If there are two trees although by appearance both of them look quite similar at least in terms of basic features such as the stem, branches, and leaves. Yet each tree blooms at a different time and produces different fruits, their survival might also be different according to weather conditions. To understand this one would want to know how or in what conditions/circumstances the tree evolved from a seedling to a small plant and then to a tree. Similarly, in today’s world, every human being acts/reacts differently to certain situations based on his/her ancestral evolutionary background. Thus it is of utter importance to understand human evolution and the evolution of the brain. This cannot be summed up any more precisely than the way (Gad Saad) mentioned in his book “Evolutionary Psychology in Business Sciences “if a scientist wants to study any animal he would never do so while disregarding the biotic and evolutionary powers that have affected its current form.

The fundamental pillars of evolutionary psychology state the way of our evaluation of the change in organ development so that the different tasks can be performed effectively., our minds also consist of a specific algorithm through which we can reach to a resolution to a specific evolutionary challenge. The missing link between the study of human conduct and its biological foundation is clearly visible in business sciences. It is quite strange not to see the way our biology figures our actions be it as consumers, employees, and/or employers. Our intrinsic preference for food, movies, and desire for different products such as luxury cars for males and cosmetics for females are clear signals of our ancestral biological actions of survival and acquiring a mate (Scott, 1916).

The function of our heart is to pump blood to other organs in our body, our lungs are responsible for pumping air, and so on. Every part of our body is responsible for doing some specific tasks. And these parts have been responsible for these specific tasks throughout human evolution. To date, no scientific study has been able to negate the importance of the heart as an organ that pumps blood all through the body from the time of our ancestors. In the same way, our brain has been responsible for solving some tasks i.e finding solutions to problems. The basic principle of evolutionary psychology states that our minds have been pre-equipped with some special tasks to solve the challenges faced throughout evolution (Mohammed et al., 2014) and this is visible in the way we crave food or the way we long to be a part of a community or the desire of owning things.

Thus behind every action there is a cue and a motive and our brain tries to connect the cue to the motive to relate it to our evolutionary trait as that is exactly how the algorithm of our brain functions be it to find a solution to a certain problem or to take a decision in a situation each time our brain will go back to our evolutionary traits and will try to link into one of the motives in order to reach to a solution of a decision (Mohammed et al., 2014).

Motives Framework. In our day-to-day life, we encounters situations where you have to take a decision or have to make a choice be it whether to eat mango ice cream or drink strawberry juice, buy an apple iPhone or android Samsung, or wear matching shoes to your dress. Though these problems seem to be relevant to the present time. The approach one takes to reach to a decision/solution traces back to human evolution. For instance why does someone spend money on buying the latest apple iPhone whereas the need of using a phone can also be fully filled by any other cheaper smartphone, or why matching shoes to your dress is very important whereas the mere purpose of the shoes is to protect your feet from the cold and dust (Nelissen & Meijers, 2011).

An indulgence of evolutionary needs can provide understanding to such customer behaviors and verdict processes. We scrutinize the motivational foundations of customer behavior from the viewpoint of the Fundamental Motives Framework (Kenrick, Griskevicius, Neuberg, & Schaller, 2010). The outline insists that humans have developed certain psychological versions for resolving a specific set of problems based on the challenges faced by our ancestors. These fundamental challenges include: (1) avoiding somatic harm, (2) avoiding disease, (3) making friends, (4) attaining status, (5) acquiring a mate, (6) keeping that mate, and (7) to care for the family. Such a framework is very fruitful to generate a new hypothesis about the crucial fundamental motives that may influence the basic psychological process that include memory, attention, and altruistic behavior (Griskevicius et al., 2007)

We will discuss in detail the important motives agenda and its effects on the advertisements and choice. We analyze how, why, and when an evolutionary motive gets activated and what might be the possible cues for its activations, and how it affects the consumer needs here it is important to understand that the motives framework is based on the proximate and ultimate motives. Proximate motives deal with the current timeframe what or how the person is feeling right now it provides the shortest reasoning to the problem without depicting the whole scenario for instance before going out your friend wears a warm jacket upon enquiring he says “because it is cold” this is proximate reasoning, on the other hand, the ultimate motive deals with the long term ancestral cause of the action, like wearing a jacket during cold weather could be to 1) survive and 2) avoid disease as our ancestor would try to survive during cold weathers. As most people only recognize the proximate reasons. In fact, people are particularly poor at identifying the decisive details of their activities (Barrett & Kurzban, 2006).

For example, an individual can be motivated for buying luxury car because the expensive use of leather and the peppy acceleration of the car make it eye catchy and make the individual feel good even after thinking about it. In the other words, when the such a car would be bought, it would enhance the reproductive fitness of the individual which would the ultimate reason that would prompt the individual unconsciously towards buying that car (Griskevicius et al., 2007).

Table 1

Fundamental motives, their triggers, and example behavioral tendencies

Evolutionary Motives Cues Triggering System Examples of behavioral tendencies

(Evade physical danger to remain safe)

Possibility of physical danger:

  • Angry faces, out-group males
  • Darkness, loud noises
  • Interacting with a threatening person
  • Increased aversion to losses
  • Increased tendency to conform
  • Decreased risk-seeking
Diseases Avoidance

(Avoid infections to stay healthy)

The potential presence of pathogens:

  • Coughing, sneezing, foul smells
  • Dirtiness, deformity, foreignness
  • Interacting with a sick person
  • Become more introverted
  • Seek “clean” and familiar products
  • Avoid used products

(Form and maintain cooperative alliances)


Friendship threat or opportunity:

  • Social rejection, loneliness
  • Concerns about fairness
  • Interacting with friends, coworkers
  • Seek products to connect with others
  • Susceptibility to word-of-mouth
  • Seek reviews for others’ opinions

(Gain and maintain respect and prestige)

Status threat or opportunity:

  • Competition, Success
  • Prestigious people or objects
  • Interacting with rivals
  • Seek products that signal prestige
  • Seek exclusive, up-to-date features
  • Increased prosocial choices
Mate Acquisition

(Acquire a desirable romantic partner)

Desirable members of the opposite sex:

  • Sexy images, products
  • Romantic stories
  • Interacting with a potential mate
  • Increased male impulsivity, risk-taking, & conspicuous consumption
  • Increased public altruism by females
  • Male nonconformity and creativity
Mate Retention

(Foster long-term mating bond)

Relationship threat or celebration:

  • Anniversary, reminisce old times
  • Interloper, wandering eye
  • Interacting with spouse/partner
  • Seek gifts to foster a relationship
  • Women’s attention to other women’s attractiveness
  • Men’s attention to other men’s status
Kin care

(Invest in and care for family and kin)

Family or vulnerable others:

  • Vulnerable babies and children
  • Suffering family members
  • Interacting with family members
  • The increased trust in others
  • Increased nurturance
  • Increased giving without expectation of reciprocation

Source: V. Griskevicius, D.T. Kenrick / Journal of Consumer Psychology 23, 3 (2013) 372–386

Self-Protection. The self-Protection motive is one the most basic and core fundamental motive which is present in all living beings around. This motive gets activated when there is a threat around or it can even get activated in unusual situations in which one is not sure what’s going to happen next. For example, if some birds are eating some leftover breadcrumbs in a park they will fly away as soon as as see any human being/bike/dog coming close by because when any of the mentioned objects came close the situation was not usual anymore thus activating the self-protection motive in the bird making it to fly for its safety. It is the most essential for the survival of oneself (Neuberg, Kenrick, & Schaller, 2011).

Our descendants were those that endured, and to do so they trusted in a well-developed self-protection system that continues in contemporary life (Neuberg et al., 2011). With the use of cues, the self-protection system is activated that may indicate physical danger such as the angry expression of spiders, the acts of strange men, and new sports, etc. (Ackerman et al., 2006). Activation of this motive in humans makes them more vigilant towards their surroundings and even the slightest difference can make one paranoid. For instance, this motive can get activated when an unusual stranger is walking toward you on a train, although it might be his only intention is to sit on the empty seat next to you (Neuberg et al., 2011).

The self-protection strategy may motivate people for seeking safety choices. When these motives are activated, they lead people for taking the fewer risks in daily living (Lerner & Keltner, 2001). One example could be people with this motive activated tend to follow the majority as it seems to be the safest option. Upon given an option to choose a phone between Samsung and an Unknown brand with exactly the same specifications on both phones people prefer Samsung, for the fact that it is known and there are lesser risks associated with it. A lot of advertisers use this motive to depict their brand as safe, strong, secure, and reliable (Lerner & Keltner, 2001).

Disease Avoidance. According to WHO (World Health Organization) in 2015 alone, there were almost 55 million deaths caused by disease worldwide and these diseases have remained the leading cause of death for the last 15 years. Even if we take a look at history diseases have always been the biggest threat to human existence. Biologists have estimated that infectious diseases have the most crucial selection pressures on human beings (Gangestad & Buss, 1993). The Spanish flu was the man who had killed 40 to 100 million people in his life history during 1918 (Olson, Simonson, Edelson, & Morse, 2005).

Every human being is equipped with an internal immune system to fight diseases and the system has evolved with the evolution of the body. The behavioral immune system has also been evaluated as it has avoided the infection at the optimum priority through the use of behavior. (Schaller & Park, 2011). Such sort of avoidance system for the diseases was get triggered whenever there is someone sneezing, coughing or there is some unusual smell or any other abnormalities (Ackerman et al., 2009). When the avoidance system of the disease was primed then people become more socially avoidant which may including the less tolerable and introverted people (Schaller & Park, 2011).

Activating this system does not necessarily mean that people would become introverts or avoid strangers it can also activate another way around. Many products seek to use this system. People tend to buy products that are being advertised to keep them away from disease such as tissues, hygiene wipes, soaps, etc.

Affiliation. Human beings are social animals. It is a basic need to interact with others, socialize and form bonds that is how we have survived generations over generations. When the ancestors may form coalitions with the presence of other people, then they have supposed to survive successfully (Hill & Hurtado, 1996; Lancaster, 1978). By having friends and coalitions around us we increase the opportunity of achieving something successfully while mitigating the risks.

The affiliation system is appreciated today, as well as we have invested largely to build and maintain our friendships (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). By inviting someone to dinner or by going shopping with them or simply spending some time together, we always happen to be trying to find new or to maintain our peer groups. One purpose of affiliation might be not to feel lonely whereas the second purpose is the feeling of being part of a larger group or blending into society.

An affiliation motive also indorsed to strengthening the prevailing friendships and spurs behaviors to make new networks (Maner, Nathan DeWall, Baumeister, & Schaller, 2007). When this motive is activated people tend to be more open towards strangers which is in contrast to disease avoidance. The people who have an affiliation motive may spend more money on the products that are enjoyed within the company of others instead to enjoy loneliness (Mead, Baumeister, Stillman, Rawn, & Vohs, 2011).

Status. Status is the motive that comes after affiliation, it is interlinked between affiliation and mate acquisition. This motive fulfills the need for recognition, prestige, and respect among the peer group. And gaining/achieving status brings in some benefits. The individuals who wear the branded shirts and the ones who do not wear branded shirt face varied compliances regarding the individual requests and hiring for a new job (Nelissen & Meijers, 2011).

This system can also be triggered when people are deprived of status or power (Rucker & Galinsky, 2009). Such as people with status-activated systems might observe how much they are being heard in their social group. Or on which hierarchal level do they stand in the case of work/organization, it might also increase the competition for dominance (Nelissen & Meijers, 2011).

However, a more mutual route human beings use to accomplish and uphold status is through prestige—freely discussed admiration (Cheng, Tracy, Foulsham, Kingstone, & Henrich, 2013). Furthermore, a status motive leads the people to pay more for comfort and admired belongings (Rucker & Galinsky, 2008) Once the status has been gained, people display behavior designed to sanctuary their status (Maner, Gailliot, Butz, & Peruche, 2007)

Status can be selfish or self-sacrificing depending on the situation the motive has been gained for if the motive is active for prestige and dominance one might act to prioritize individual motives over group motives (Maner & Mead, 2012). On the other hand, if the motive is active for respect and recognition one might be self-sacrificing. This is because within a group can be maximized through self-sacrifice (Hardy & Van Vugt, 2006)

  1. Mate Acquisition. Mating has been the core fundamental of life on earth itself. The reason why we are here today is just that m  our ancestors were able to successfully acquire a mating partner. And by managing to avoid danger or disease and by forming coalitions and gaining respect. The process of acquiring a mate has never been simple among all animals including “social”, the process requires certain actions and steps in order to secure a mate. For instance, to acquire a mate male pigeons try to dance around female pigeons while making certain sounds in order to stand out from the flock. (Lena & Stefan, 2017).

In the same way, the mate acquisition system is activated among humans by the occurrence of a potential mate. Both men and women want to stand out for acquiring a mate as well as often pursue to draw consideration to themselves in diverse ways. Such sort of motives may increase the willingness for spending a lot on luxury products and services (Griskevicius et al., 2007).

Self-protection motive in which one tends to follow the majority and do what most people would do and avoid risks while By trying to stand out from the crowd Mate acquisition motive is in contrast with self-protection as it makes men take more risks for instance. In such cases, when women are scarce when men are involved in securing a mate to save less money and become more willing the use credit cards for immediate purchases (Griskevicius et al., 2012).

Mate Retention. To get a successful offspring mate acquisition is the first step in the process, after successfully acquiring a mate. The second challenge is to retain a mate, this challenge is quite different than acquiring a mate as when this motive is active one tends to spend more time and money to maintain the relationship. When consumers take decisions just focusing on their conflict of interest, then their decisions can never be shaped just like their relationship partners in the implicit and explicit manner (Simpson, Griskevicius, & Rothman, 2012).

The mate retention system includes the positive behaviors designed for maintaining the prevailing relationship bonds, as well as behaviors designed for managing intimidation of possible romantic competitors (Campbell & Ellis, 2005). People in this system might buy expensive gifts to show their devotion to the relationship. (Marco et al. 2016). People are interested to recall their mates just like inclining to lessen substitute probable romantic partners (Lydon, Fitzsimons, & Naidoo, 2003).

Kin care. The ultimate reason for mate acquisition and mate retention is to have successful offspring so that the generation can move forward. (Baum et al, 2016). Hence caring for the kin is very important since the young kin is very receptive to diseases and threats.

The kin care system is the major area of living where family members are in greater need or more vulnerable to the needs and demands (Glocker et al., 2009). People spend a lot of their financial resources, energy, and time bringing care to their families and raising their children. Approximately $475,680 has been used within the United States for bringing care to the children and the other family members (Lino, 2010).

The skin care system does not necessarily mean to get activated by your offspring only, it can also be active by living together. It is also active among siblings to motivate their readiness for sacrificing themselves to assist others, especially if those others are the person’s relatives (Burnstein, Crandall, & Kitayama, 1994).

Use of Fundamental Motives in Advertising. Since the early beginning of the advertisements, fundamental motives have been used by the advertisers though unknowingly. Although in the beginning, the sole purpose of the advertisement was to increase sales but in order to show the benefits of the product in an ad, one must depict the characteristics in a way that touches on one of the fundamental motives. (Baum et al, 2016). The use of emotional advertising has substantially increased since the start of the eighteenth century (Allen et al., 2005).

In today’s world companies use advertisements for numerous reasons and not only to increase sales. Within print ads, numerous ways can be used to direct the attention of the readers. It includes various physical components such as brightness or size. It also includes various collative properties that could be novelty and complexity (Berlyne 1960). The study showed that when any sort of attention is directed towards the features of a particular product that it may also maximize the physical prominence (Gardner 1983). The basic advertising motive is to act as a bridge between the brand and the personal motives of the consumer. Depending on how specific an ad is on a motive creates the difference in brands and their positioning. (John P. Rochon Thomas J. Reynolds (1991) the question here is what benefit or value does this motive delivers or why is the motive so important to the consumer. (Topcic et al, 2016).

Values are the characteristics attached to a certain thing in order to determine its worthiness. They are determinants of culturally approved acts and attitudes from simple purchasing acts to political and religious ideology. (Kashive and Khanna, 2017). And each of the institutions tries to transmit the values such as church, family, universities, etc. the biggest value transmission mode is through advertising as it plays an important role in mass media hence giving it a universal reach (Pollay, 1983).

Most organizations try to preserve and conserve the value system, advertising acts on the contrary by trying to bring change or at least change in the behavior and behavior standards. (Roulin et al, 2016). Thus, promotion works are also used to get attention for valuing the inherent of the product. It would also be realized by the purchaser via consumption of the product (Polly et al., 1991).

In today’s world, we see more advertisements than anything else around us in form of banners, pamphlets, newspapers, billboards, Television, internet even on your cellphones it is impossible not to see an ad. Persuading us not only towards consumption but also core values system based on consumption and commercial transaction. (Cascio & Graham, 2016). In fact, advertising uses more or less the same methods and tools to convince its viewers about religion. It has now become evident that the persuasive capacity of advertising is due to its potential to relate to people and connect on the level of their deepest needs in ways that are apparently meaningful. (Jeanie Wills 2011)

In order to understand what value an advertisement provides. Yet it is quite unclear as to what triggers the mind to attach value to a certain product or a brand. (Hansen & Schnittka, 2017). Or which cue triggers which motive? Since the fundamental motives framework tell us that all of our actions are linked to our evolutionary motives and each motive is activated by triggering certain cues, which leaves us to ponder “if advertisements that use fundamental motive perform better than non-fundamental motive advertisements” (Kyriakidou, 2017).


Coding scheme. To test the above hypothetical question a coding procedure is necessary for mass media advertisements. The coding scheme was developed based on the procedure used by Richard W. Polly for testing value manifest in advertising. Even though Polly used the scheme for print media, it is still applicable to our coding scheme as it is similar with regard to the number of coders and to the content itself (advertisements).

Coders. Apart from the author itself one university graduate student from the field of business administration was chosen due to the existing knowledge about the field of studies and was trained for the specific task in the first session

Initial Session. The basic concepts were explained and discussed in detail why what and how to do the coding, the coders then were given 40 sample ads to test the methodology and identify if the ad activates any of the fundamental motives and if so, it was triggered by which cues. The differences were solved by mutual discussions and clarifications the challenges in the early stage were mainly misunderstandings in the coding instrument which were clarified and soon the coders seemed to be learning with each passing ad. The results of the ratings were discussed once the sample rating was complete.

Sample. Advertisements were drawn from the super bowl (annual professional American football championship), since its one of the largest reoccurring events. In 2017 an estimated 111.3 million viewers watched the event ( And due to its enormous viewership, the companies are keen to advertise their products during this time. A sample size of 500 ads was selected over a period of 10 years from 2008 to 2017 with an average of 50 ads per year. The sample was taken from the website USA today’s ammeter and adland, it is one of the biggest archives of super bowl ads. The longitudinal sample was chosen due to two factors, firstly to include the diversity of the viewership and secondly to test the methodology on the most recent ads as well as on the ads which are no longer in use.

Dependent Variable. Demeter USA today is a website that conducts surveys to determine the best ad during super bowl sessions each year for the past 30 years, which makes it a huge ad library with actually conducted surveys. The surveys are conducted during an ongoing league in which participants have to vote for the best ad after the match based on different determinants such as ad performance average, ad performance female, ad performance male, and ad length. Since the data for other determinants were not available in past years, thus ad performance average was selected as the dependent variable to test the hypothesis

Coding Procedure. After the initial introductory session, the coders started to code the actual sample size. The coders were instructed to analyze and observe each ad firstly for the fundamental motives as they are the key elements in an ad that relate the ad to the evolutionary perspective. They might be visible by the depiction of a certain object or a situation in the ad. The secondary element of the ads is cued/appeals used to support/activate the primary element they might be noticeable by listening to the advertisements dialogue. Code if there is a primary element available or not. Code the secondary element in case the primary element is present in the ad. Code the dependent variable. Additionally, code for product type as hedonic or utilitarian. To avoid differences in coding results and to depict a unanimous result coders were allowed to discuss the ad with each other based on their observations. All the coding was recorded on the excel form shown in exhibit XYZ.

The coding was performed under the following instructions

  1. Watch the advertisement’s visual aspect for the fundamental motives
  2. Listen to the audio aspect of the ads in order to analyze the cue triggering the fundamental motive
  3. Analyze the ad thoroughly to identify the product type (hedonic/utilitarian)
  4. Look if the ads are using humor
  5. Mark the dependent variable ratings
  6. Cross-check the result with the other coder


Correlation coefficient. To test the similarity of the results co-relation analysis was conducted. Since the second coder coded 60% ads out of 500 for a span of ten years with 30 ads in each year. Correlation analysis was of great importance to assume the similarity of the data for the remaining 40 %.

The above table shows the Pearson product-moment coefficient computed to analyze the relationship between the ad motives of coder 1 and coder 2 among 300 study participants. The analysis has shown that there is a significant positive relationship has been found between coder 1 and coder (r= .86***, p<.000). It shows that these variables are highly dependent on one another. It has supported the study hypothesis as well as the study results are consistent with the previous studies that giving the strengthening look to the present study.

Univariate Analysis.

Univariate analysis of variance was conducted to compare the effect of ad motives on ad performance average in motive 1, motive 2, motive 3, motive 4, motive 5, motive 6, and motive 7 to see if these motives perform better than motive 8 (No Motive). There was a significant effect of ad motives on ad performance average at p < 0.05 for the eight conditions [F (7, 492) = 4.29**, p = 0.01]. Post hoc comparisons using turkeys HSD indicated that the mean score for the ad motive 6 (M = 3.29, SD = 3.30) was significantly different than rest of the motives such as motive 1 mean score (M = 5.02, SD = 2.19), motive 2 (M = 4.62, SD 1.13) motive 3 (M = 5.46, SD = 1.57), motive 4 (M = 4.71, SD = 1.96), motive 5 (M = 4.89, SD = 2.10) while motive 7 was with highest mean score (M = 5.44, SD = 1.78) though motive 8 is being tested against the rest of the motives to analyze whether if performs better or not. The mean score was not significantly different (M = 4.94, SD = 2.05)

Discussion. The study aimed at identifying whether the advertisements using fundamental motives perform better than the non-fundamental motives, moreover to analyze which of the motives perform better than the others. So that advertisers around the globe could focus their marketing efforts based on the impact of those factors in order to generate engagement towards the brand and advertisements. The literature review helped us to identify important factors regarding the fundamental motives framework and their implications. The model itself was concise as well as detailed enough to cover almost all the aspects of daily life, which was the base of our coding instruments. We conducted correlation and univariate analysis to check the impact on ad performance. The results of these tests provide important insight regarding advertising strategies and the human psychological behavior of consumers towards advertisements and different situations. (Joonghwa Lee, Chang-Dae Ham & Mikyoung Kim (2013) mention that consumers intend to share a video ad with their peers when there is an element of pleasure, affection, inclusion, escape, relaxation and control.

The Pearson showed a 0.86 correlation among the coders meaning there is an 86% chance that the answer of one coder will be similar to the other with the sig (2 tailed) at 0.01 showing that the model is positively correlated and highly significant.

The p-value for the univariate analysis showed an impact of fundamental motives on advertisements, by conducting the test we also analyzed which of the motives are currently being used by advertisers and it turns out that there are two advertising motives that are being used most intensively namely affiliation and status. This can be seen in the descriptive analysis as motive 3 (affiliation) being used 133 times and motive 4 (status) 111 times respectively in a sample size of 500 ads. This means that the advertiser put more focus on affiliation because it is a common human trait to feel a part of society or to belong to the community. An affiliation motive can also promote gift-giving, particularly by leading people to purchase gifts that might run counter to their own identities to fulfill the desires of the intended recipient (Ward & Broniarczyk, 2011). Thus when a consumer sees an ad with an affiliation motive it is deemed more acceptable and influential and the second most common used motive was the status as when advertisers wants to depict their product they want it to be very exclusive and different and status has been the trait which is associated with being distinct or exclusive. It is also attached to power and prestige accordingly, a status motive leads people to pay more for luxurious and prestigious goods (Rucker & Galinsky, 2008), thus making it a favored motive for the advertisers as the motivation for taking the action is higher. And once the status has been obtained, people exhibit behavior designed to preserve their status (Maner, Gailliot, Butz, & Peruche, 2007)

The results shows mean score of motive 6 in was significantly different than the rest of the motives which is quite astonishing because mate acquisition seems to be a very important element in day-to-day life. It is mainly due to the fact that the number of ads for motive 6 was only 19. This implies that advertisers do not use the motive mate acquisition as intensively as compared to status or affiliation. (Samuel, 2011). Mainly because as mentioned in the literature people with this ad tend to stand out but for a very specific reason i.e to acquire a mate, and everyone can have their own way of standing out. And since most of the advertisements are trying depict goods or services which could be used by the masses, it might be difficult to develop ads. Secondly, mate acquisition is a process that is being considered personal in some cultures which might not be acceptable to give a bad name to the brand. (Scott, 1916). The second least used motive was disease avoidance or motive 2 it was coded only 24 times from the sample size. It shows that marketers around the globe tend to avoid using this motive as to activate this motive in consumers one might have to show unhygienic things or sick people which might also act another way around i.e. people might not want to see the ad due to the feeling of disgust or sympathy. (Firfiray and Mayo, 2017). Although the mean score for this motive is fairly the same as others. On contrary, the standard error for motive 2 and motive 6 are 0.41 and 0.46 respectively which shows that the sample results are away from reality.

For the non-fundamental motives that are to say motive 8 the mean score was 4.34 which was slightly below average. Nonfundamental motive ads are those ads that use any of the motives from the motives framework. This means that the advertisers intended to use or depict some other motive or feeling through the ad which the coders were unable to grasp. (Strong, 1925).

The results from Tuckey HSD Post Hoc tests multiple comparisons show that the mean difference is significant at p<0.05, for motive1 motive 6 is significant at 0.01, for motive 2,4,5 no other motives were significant, for motive 3 M6 and M8 were significant at 0.01 and 0.03, for motive 6 M1, M3, and M7 were significant at 0.01 each. While for motives 7, 8 M6, and M3 were significant at 0.01 and 0.03 respectively

The overall results show that the fundamental motive ads perform better than the nonfundamental motive. As it is visible in the graph above the estimated marginal means where “3” and “7” are performing above 5.00 while the rest of the motives lie between 4.50 and 5.00 except “6” which lies below 3.50. Whereas “8” lies below 4.50, this graph exhibits a detailed overview of which motives perform better than the others based on which the advertisers can plan their advertisements around the motive.


Our study focused on finding out the significant factors that impact ad performance through the use of fundamental motives. How and why consumers engage in ads and what are the driving forces that motivate them to act upon an ad have been long under discussion our results contribute to this discussion in a manner that enhances the understanding for the marketers to advertise their product. (Alkshatry et al, 2017).

To summarize the results of our study, we observe that consumers’ engagement with advertisements is directly related to the content being shown to them and their attachment to the ad increases when they feel the situation is somehow related to them. Moreover, the advertisements that use motive tend to be more interesting. Therefore using fundamental motive have been found significantly and positively affect performance. While the ads with no motive or non-fundamental motives have less significance on performance. (Guerroro, 2017).

Not all ads need to have a fundamental motive. Though these motives are similar throughout human history and across the globe yet it each of them can be perceived and interpreted differently in different regions and thus cannot give a unanimous look. On the other hand, it is quite possible consumers being aware of the fundamental motives feel that by using these motives the advertisements are exploiting the consumer’s psychology and not really delivering the actual message. This in turn can make them avoid ads altogether or they will not engage in the ad. (Kanning, 2017).

Our study helps the marketers of global brands in understanding the main factors which lead the consumers to endorse and engage with their brands through advertisements. High customer engagement of brands through advertisement leads to word of mouth which is valuable for any brand as it helps the marketers influence the consumption patterns of existing customers and generate new customers as well. This leads to enhanced sales and profitability for the firm.

The sample size consists of only super bowl ads which depict the view of only one nation. Moreover, only 2 coders coded the instruments with one coder coding only 60% of the data, therefore, making it difficult to avoid biased results. Since our study only focused on one aspect of comparison between fundamental and non-fundamental. Further research is needed by adding more diverse data from different nations and by adding more variables to the data. These studies can then be compared to understand how motives are perceived in different regions.


Coding instrument

  1. The ad activates a (self-protection) motive, in terms that the ad motivates the viewer to (evade physical danger to remain safe).
  2. The ad activates a (Disease avoidance) motive, in terms of that the ad motivates the viewer to (Avoid infections to stay healthy).
  3. The ad activates an (Affiliation) motive, in terms that the ad motivates the viewer to (Form and maintain cooperative alliances)
  4. The ad activates a (Status) motive, in terms of that the ad motivates the viewer to (Gain and maintain respect and prestige)
  5. The ad activates a (Mate acquisition) motive, in terms of that the ad motivates the viewer to (Acquire a desirable romantic partner)
  6. The ad activates a (Mate retention) motive, in terms of that the ad motivates the viewer to (Foster a long-term mating bond)
  7. The ad activates a (Kin care) motive, in terms of that the ad motivates the viewer to (Invest in and care for family and kin)
  8. The ad activates (no fundamental motives).
Ad_ID Ad_Name Ad_Motive Cue_Triggering_Motive Ad_Performance_Average


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