Neural Correlates of Voice Gender and Message Framing in Advertising: A Functional MRI Study

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Abstract

This article examines the neural and behavioral effects of voice gender and message framing in ecological advertising by means of functional MRI in conjunction with a task presenting persuasive gain-framed (GF) or loss-framed (LF) messages pronounced by male voice (MV) and female voice (FV). Behavioral responses showed more positive attitudes toward ads comprising MVs and GF messages. A whole-brain analysis revealed that visual regions are strongly elicited by LF (vs. GF) messages, whereas an area related to personal value computing, future positive aspirations, and social benefits—namely, the anterior cingulate cortex—is strongly activated by GF (vs. LF) messages. The MV triggered stronger activation in areas related to pitch processing and visual scenes, whereas the FV provoked a higher neural–audiovisual integration. Furthermore, neural activation in the inferior frontal gyrus significantly predicted attitudes toward ads pronounced by the MV, and the activation in the orbitofrontal gyrus predicted attitudes toward ads comprising GF messages. Taken together, this article sheds light on a differential neural processing of gain and loss frames as well as MV and FV. It also suggests that messages expressing social benefits (e.g., environmental) could be processed differently from those reporting individual advantages (e.g., healthy). Finally, it advises managers and associations which market environmentally responsible products and ideas the voice and frame of the message which generate the highest subconscious value.

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