"Message-Elicited Brain Response Moderates the Relationship Between Opportunities for Exposure to Anti-Smoking Messages and Message Recall." Journal of Communication, 2019.

Elissa C. Kranzler, Ralf Schmälzle, Rui Pei, Robert C. Hornik, and Emily B. Falk

Campaign success is contingent on adequate exposure; however, exposure opportunities (e.g., ad reach/frequency) are imperfect predictors of message recall. We hypothesized that the exposure-recall relationship would be contingent on message processing. We tested moderation hypotheses using 3 data sets pertinent to “The Real Cost” anti-smoking campaign: past 30-day ad recall from a rolling national survey of adolescents aged 13–17 (n = 5,110); ad-specific target rating points (TRPs), measuring ad reach and frequency; and ad-elicited response in brain regions implicated in social processing and memory encoding, from a separate adolescent sample aged 14–17 (n = 40). Average ad-level brain activation in these regions moderates the relationship between national TRPs and large-scale recall (p < .001), such that the positive exposure-recall relationship is more strongly observed for ads that elicit high levels of social processing and memory encoding in the brain. Findings advance communication theory by demonstrating conditional exposure effects, contingent on social and memory processes in the brain.