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I’d like to teach the world to siiiing! :)

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Let’s admit it, we’ve all sang our hearts out at least once in our lives. Even though we do not want to admit it, every person has a part in him that wants to be(or in some cases feels like) a singer. Whenever the tune of our favorite song, old or new, comes to play in the radio waves, we just can’t help but sing along or at least hum along. Even the toughest of guys sang along to the tune of “Nobody”, even it was such a girly pop song. But the big question on my mind is.. WHY? Why do people sing? Why is it that even though we are out of tune or do not know the lyrics, we still continue on belting out on songs?

This is a bigger question for us Filipinos. We all know we looooove to use the Karaoke machine. Heck, we even own 4 of them for other people to rent(and for us to use when no one rents the rest HAHA). Most of the people who rent our videoke machines use them for parties. Christmas parties, birthday parties, anniversaries, etc.So this means that singing is a way for us filipinos to celebrate big events and milestones in our lives. But what is it really in singing that keeps us coming back for more, even though most of our neighbors already file noise reports because of us?

Well, those questions were answered by a study by Clift &

Hancox(2010) entitled “The significance of choral singing for sustaining psychological wellbeing”. In the study, they conducted large cross‐national survey of 1124 choral singers drawn from choirs in Australia, England and Germany who completed the questionnaire to measure physical, psychological, social and environmental wellbeing. Meanwhile, written accounts of the effects of choral singing on wellbeing and health were given in response to open questions.

The results were that 79% of the singers were contented with their health, and it is striking that a sense of ‘happiness’ produced by singing is a common reason why they report that they feel healthy. Also, the singers reported that singing is a way to relieve stress from the outside world. Nevertheless, it was found that there was variation in the extent to which singers endorse the idea that singing has benefits for their wellbeing, and an important finding is that women are more likely to report stronger benefits compared with men.

Okay, I agree with their results and I find it to be close to what I thought would come out of the study. However, I think what would be interesting to know if this is also applicable to the Filipino men, which we all know love to sing much more than other nationalities.

Theire study made me feel better about my shower singing, since I know that singing does not only strain my vocal chords but it also has positive effects on my emotional well-being. Apparantly, whenever I sing more, I get to release more emotions/stress building up inside of me. Whew! That’s a relief. Now I think I could belt out my favorite Adele song, “Someone Like You” with no hesitations and apprehensions whatsoever because I know that afterwards, I would feel better. Who knows? I might even record it on GarageBand and eventually become a recording artist!(NAT.)

P.S. You might also want to release some stress building up in you. If that’s the case, check out http://www.karaokeparty.com and let your inner Celine Di ‘Yon/Chos Groban shine! 😉

Clift, S. & Hancox, G. (2010). The significance of choral singing for sustaining psychological wellbeing: findings from a survey of choristers in England, Australia and Germany. Music Performance Research Copyright, 3(1), 79-96.

 

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Nostalgia.

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I am a proud 90’s baby.

I was born during the reign of baggy jeans and overalls.

I was born during the hype of the Power Rangers and F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

I was born during the era of Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, 98o, and my all time favorite, *NSYNC. I am a proud *NSYNC fan (I have all their albums- including their Greatest Hits album. I’m just saying.).

For some reason, the music of the 90’s is what stuck to me the most. Whenever I would hear songs from this decade, I think not of the repetitive melodies and the ridiculously cheesy lines (including “I don’t know what he does to make you cry, but I’ll be there to make you smile” and “When I look into your eyes I know that it’s true. God must’ve spent a little more time on you,”). Instead, I recall that Christmas when we had to dance to Backstreet Boys in front of my whole family (getting P20 in exchange), that time when my cousins and I would sing along whenever Britney Spears’ new single would play on MTV, and that time when I would talk to my parents out loud whenever Eminem’s songs would play in the car, just to mask out all the cuss words in his songs.

I remember my childhood and the good (well, sometimes the bad) experiences linked to these songs. And honestly, nothing gives me the same kind of feeling. Listening to these kinds of music brings back nothing but good vibes.

Interestingly, it looks like several researchers feel the same way about their own generation’s music. Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E. investigated on the effects of felt emotion and arousal induced by music on memory performance. Emotion was measured by the participants’ ratings of the music’s valence, while arousal was measured based on the participants’ excitation levels upon listening to the music. The researchers were able to carry out their study using two conditions: an “emotion group” was asked to rate the music’s valence, intensity and arousal as it is being played (systematic processing), and a “time-estimation group” was asked to measure the length of the music being played (superficial processing). Upon being segregated randomly between the two conditions and actually undergoing their designated treatments, they were asked to rate the stimuli’s arousal, valence and emotional intensity. Two days after undergoing their corresponding treatments, the participants were tested on their ability to recognize the songs previously presented to them (Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E., 2008).

Their results show that their hypothesis regarding the effect of felt emotions does hold true. Music rated to be more positive was found to be positively related to their recognition ability (Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E., 2008). Although they were able to relate the effect of emotions, they were not able to find significant results as to the effect of arousal on memory performance. Thus, their hypothesis that stimuli rated to have high arousal effects on the participants would be remembered better does not hold true (Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E., 2008).

The researchers predicted that the participants part of the “emotion group” would perform better at memory performance, being that they were subjected to deep and systematic processing, yet their results show that there is no significant different between the performance of the two groups. Such results are surprising, according to the researchers, yet they attribute such findings to their experimental conditions (Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E., 2008).

The researchers didn’t explicitly mention a particular cause to their findings. Based on the past topics discussed in class, I would say that melody schema would have played a role in the recognition of the tunes. Although it doesn’t directly explain the relationship between emotions and recognition, it would be possible that this would be partly responsible for recognition. The participants could have compared the music to their already stored schema and identified correctly based on this.

I could always rely on music to take me back to happier times. If you ask for my own explanation to their findings, I would simply say: People want and tend to remember things that remind them of instances that make them feel good.

I await for the day that researchers would find a concrete neurological basis to this fact (since according to these researchers, such studies are still taking place). Til then, I will enjoy my 90’s pop songs, with a big smile on my face. 🙂

Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E. (2008). Unforgettable film music: The role of emotion in episodic long-term memory for music.BMC Neuroscience, 9. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2202/9/48.

JNN: Jeepney News Ngayon!

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I always observe people around me when I commute. When two people are talking inside a jeep with complete strangers, don’t you feel the urge to listen? I do. It’s fun listening to conversations of other people when you are bored to death inside public transportation. You may call it gossiping but I guess it’s harmless since I don’t really know them. When listening to them, I feel that I am also part of the conversation, knowing details about stranger’s lives. Feeling and resisting the urge to laugh at a joke is sometimes embarrassing but I guess it’s part of jeep or MRT entertainment – a mini show for that matter. – like The Buzz, SNN, E News, or Showbiz Central.

However, with the advent of new technology, mobile phones are now used for everyday conversations. In this public transportation scenario, many just resort to chit chatting with their friends through phone. Some with the actual phone itself and some even with wireless headsets that make them look like they’re talking to themselves (which is really annoying if you are not the one driving the train or jeep). The catch is, even though I enjoy overhearing live face-to-face conversations of people, I find people talking using moblile phones bothersome. Although I still feel the need to listen effect, I feel that he or she is disturbing my peaceful ride.

Have you ever experienced this? If yes, I think there is a study, which looks into this effect.

A study by Monk, Fellas and Ley entitled Hearing only one side of normal and mobile phone conversations demonstrated the intrusive effect of listening to cell phone conversations. They conducted a field experiment inside a train which tested their hypothesis that hearing only one side of a conversation makes it more noticeable and intrusive.

The employed two confederate actors who staged the same conversation about going on a holiday under three different conditions. The first condition was a cell phone condition, the second was a normal, co-present both audible condition and the last was a co-present only one audible condition. After their conversation, another experimenter approached the participant in order to ask for feedback. The participant answered five Likert scales rating the following statements:

1. The conversation was noticeable

2. I found the volume of the conversation annoying

3. The conversation was intrusive

4. I found myself listening to the conversation

5. The conversation was annoying

Results show that although all situations had an effect on the participants finding themselves listening to the conversation, the cell phone condition was rated more noticeable and intrusive than the normal, co-present both audible condition. The co-present only one-audible condition produced ratings equivalent to the cell phone condition. This clearly supports their hypothesis. The authors explained this effect as due to the manipulations of loudness in cell phone conversations. Raising one’s voice is a natural response to not being able to hear clearly and is common in personal stereo users such as cell phone users. There are also the negative attitudes towards cell phones due to the relative novelty of the technology, cultural stereotypes or bad experiences that make conversations in this medium produce negative affect.

I guess listening to people’s conversations is more interesting if it is multi-sensory. Perceiving speech and conversations are not just a factor of our auditory system but also our visual system. They’re a tag team. Not being able to see the person talked to in mobile phone conversations and not hearing it, leaves a big gap in our imagination to fill in. It’s also applicable if you can see both of them but not hear one. This might also result to misunderstanding. And it actually takes more cognitive capacity and top down processing to understand the conversation and more so to enjoy listening to it.

The next time you feel the need-to-be-chismosa while in a public space, make sure you have motivation and the right cognitive capacity to clearly perceive and enjoy one-sided entertainment conversations.  Or better yet, just relax, enjoy your trip and listen to Adele. 🙂

Monk, A., Fellas, E., & Ley, E. (2004). Hearing only one side of normal and mobile phone conversations. Behavior & Information Technology, 23(5), 301-305.

Ansabe?

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Imagine. You’re inside your car, radio is on playing some random music. Suddenly you hear this unfamiliar song that you find interesting and you want to download it later into your mp3 player. Problem is the dj didn’t metion the title of the song at the beginning. Now what will you do?

For someone like me, I try to identify some lines in the the song and then Google it afterwards. This works, when the lyrics are clearly enunciated. But this strategy fails especially when the singer has a different accent, mumbles the lyrics, or sings from a skyscraper with volume barely above a whisper (Google: Skyscraper lyrics). This makes wish the radio has a replay button then hopelessly cry out, “ANSABE?”

ANSABE?

Aside from the voice quality, other characteristics influence effective and accurate perception of speech or musical lyrics.  One factor, which radios lack, is the corresponding visual stimulation. Facial expression, movement of the lips and hand gestures that are visually perceived, do not only enhance music appreciation, but also improves understanding of the lyrics. Particularly, lip reading has been found to significantly affect perception of musical lyrics.

A study conducted by Miguel Hidalgo-Barnes and Dominic W. Massaro(2007) has looked into  the effect of seeing a corresponding face in improving understanding of sung words.  For this study, they used phrases from the song “The Pressman” sung by a band called Primus. This particular song was chosen in order to prevent familiarity to the song from affecting the participants’ performance. By using a speech alignment program, the researchers were able to transform text and wave file into a computer animated face, which they prEach participant were subjected to three presentation conditions. .One involved purely auditory stimuli, wherein the participant hears the sound of the lyrics. The second condition involved visual stimuli.  For this, participants were presented with the previously aligned animated face mouthing the lyrics.  The last condition had the stimuli presented in both modes, auditory and visual. The participants task was to encode the lyrics they were able to understand and their performance was assessed by identifying the proportion of accurate words.

Results showed that word comprehension was significantly improved through bimodal presentation. 28% and 4% was the proportion of understood words in the auditory and visual lyrics, respectively. On the other hand, 33% of the words were understood when both the animated face was seen and the sound was heard. Indeed, visual information, particularly the singer’s face, improves perception of musical lyrics.

How then can we utilize these findings? For one, the music industry can take advantage of this information. To make sure the market can understand and perceive their songs’ lyrics, they may find live performances an effective way in expanding their fan base. Therefore, reaping all the big bucks. *Ka-ching ka-ching* For those who value their art more than its monetary equivalent, they may find this knowledge as a way to better share their craft to the people who truly appreciate- those who just find themselves crying while watching and listening to the live performances of their favorite artists in Youtube. The visual information provided by their face, does not only improve understanding of the words. Visual input also helps in expressing the emotions of the song and enabling the audience to relate better- as if those “hit-home-lines” aren’t enough.

With this, I leave you a clip of one of those artists that automatically sense up my lacrimal glands. You will never utter “Ansabe?” with Adele playing on loop.

References:

Hidalgo-Barnes, M., & Massaro, D. W. (2007). Read my lips: An animated face helps communicate musical lyrics. Psychomusicology, 19, 3-12.

Fragrances That Make Scents

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I don’t stick to one. I like novelty and being with just “the one” for a long time would tire and get me uninterested. On the average, it takes me just a month or two to go looking for a new one that would be enough stimulate my senses. Loyalty? Not my thing.

Before you think negatively of me and the quality of relationships I have, I want to make it clear that I was just talking about my preferences for shower gels. (Last time I’ve checked, there’s no psychological study relating shower gels and interpersonal relationships!) Yes, I don’t always use the same brand of shower gels. Usually, after consuming one bottle of a specific brand, I would go sniff bottles in the grocery with scents different from the previous one I had. The fragrance would be the first thing I check and the deciding factor in purchasing that specific brand. My current bottle has a coconut aroma to it. I also had brief but blissful experiences with aloe, vanilla, milk and oatmeal. I prefer these fragrances because they keep me feeling fresh all day, as if I just came out of the shower. For me, these shower gels are more than just cleansing agents but they can also effectively set and enhance my mood for the day.

My current scent: Coconut cream!

This type of reasoning for my vanity, in that a specific fragrance has mood altering effects, is congruent to the findings of a study done by Field and colleagues(2005). In their study, they have showed that a specific cosmetic scent, lavender, enhances relaxation. Through the use of both physiological and self-report measures, they have assessed the scent’s apparent effects.

The self-report measures administered involved scales that measure temporary anxiety levels (STAI), depressed mood states (POMS), and feelings of tension and alertness (visual analogue scale). Aside from these, the participants also performed math computations that test their speed and accuracy. The participants’ responses and scores before and after fragrance presentation were then compared. Physiological measures employed were EEG and EKG. Through these two, physiological responses were recorded before, during and after being presented with the shower gel.

Lavender scent can induce relaxation

The results of the tests supported the hypothesis that the scent does affect transient mood. The participants reported increased relaxation and decreased anxiety and depressed mood. The same results were also observed for the physiological measures. Decreased heart rate and activation of left frontal area associated with less depressed affect and greater approach behavior were determined through the EEG and EKG respectively. The performance on the math computation (i.e. improved time record) were also correlated with the experience of enhanced relaxation. Together, these results suggest that the lavender scent can induce relaxation and improve the mood of a perceiver.

It is interesting how we can have such great control over our mood experiences and yet there are times that we can’t help but lose our temper. Knowing these findings can make us better equipped for the next fit that we’ll have when things won’t go our way.

 

Also, this study got me interested to the other scents that may affect one’s mood. We might be encountering cinnamon and peppermint perfumes and body sprays in our local grocery stores soon as these scents were found to increase perceived alertness, decreased temporal demand and decreased frustration in driving scenarios( Raudenbush et al, 2009). Chemists and perfumer may also explore and breakdown the chemical components of sweat for this particular scent from male perspiration was actually found to affect the mood, brain activity and levels of sexual arousal of women (“The joys”, 2007). Another study, which I find very timely, found that certain fragrances increases the dancing activity and enjoyment in nightclubs. I wonder what scents I would be smelling tonight in Ignite: UP PUGAD Sayk’s Adhoc event at Fiamma.

Will ensnare my sense of smell in Ignite tonight! http://www.facebook.com/PugadADHOC

These are just some of the documented scents that have mood altering effects. With the variety of odorants that we can perceive, there may still be other scents out there that induce the same effects. And for this, scents and their effects are definitely scent-sational!

Field, T., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Cisneros, W., Feijo, L., Vera, Y., & … Claire He, Q. (2005). Lavender Fragrance Cleansing Gel Effects on Relaxation. International Journal of Neuroscience, 115(2), 207-222. doi:10.1080/00207450590519175

Raudenbush, B., Grayhem, R., Sears, T., & Wilson, I. (2009). Effects of Peppermint and Cinnamon Odor Administration on Simulated Driving Alertness, Mood and Workload. North American Journal of Psychology, 11(2), 245-256.

The joys of sweating. (2007). Journal of Assisted Reproduction & Genetics, 24(5), 151. doi:10.1007/s10815-007-9117-x

I ain’t no Doctor Quack Quack!

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They say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Usually, I would agree that it’s best to follow this advice because going to the doctor is a scary thought. It usually starts with a series of tests. If you’re lucky(and healthy), you can get out of the sitch fast. But if you aren’t, you’d have to endure some scary talks with the doctor about your medical condition. Now THAT? It could be one of the most traumatizing talks of your life. But picture THIS: if your doctors look like as Dr. Mark Sloan(Mcsteamy) and Dr. Derek Shepherd(Mcdreamy) , would you even bother trying to keep them away?:”>

Meet McSteamy and McDreamy. They seriously can tie up my innards in all the wrong places and I won't care. Okay... maybe I will. But yeah :">

When I think of doctors, I usually associate the word with my favorite TV show, Grey’s Anatomy. In this TV Series, I get this vibe that doctors are the following: (1) cool, calm and collected under intense pressure, (2) addicted to coffee, (3) addicted to sex, and last but not the least, all of them are (4) physically attractive. Srsly. I think it’s not easy(and unfair!) to be hot and smart at the same time, but doctors in Grey’s Anatomy prove me wrong. Look at this picture, can you point out a cast member who’s physically appalling?

The answer is no. And that, in itself, created this thought in my mind that doctors need to look good. I mean, even if doctors are not blessed with the “hot” genes, they usually still present themselves well. Maganda manamit. Malinis. Mukhang may alam. Usually, people create ideologies of doctors in that specific manner. It all starts with the physical appearance of the person. So what happens when doctors fail to present themselves in a good manner? That was the question running in my mind when I came across this article by Rehman, S., Nietert, P., Cope, D., & Kilpatrick, A. in 2005 entitled “What to wear today? Effect of doctor’s attire on the trust and confidence of patients”.

The article answered my answer, and it gave me so much more than what I asked for. Basically, the objective of their study was to determine whether the way a doctor dresses is an important factor in the degree of trust and confidence among respondents. The method that the researchers used was through a survey form. It was intended for patients and visitors in the waiting room of an internal medicine outpatient clinic. Respondents completed a written survey after reviewing pictures of physicians in four different dress styles(business suit, professional attire with white coat, surgical scrubs, casual attire). Afterwards, the respondents were asked questions related to their preference for physician dress as well as their trust and willingness to discuss sensitive issues.

The results? Well they were what we would’ve expected, but no one was ever brave enough to blatantly say out loud. On all questions regarding physician dress style preferences, respondents significantly favored the professional attire with white coat (76.3%), followed by surgical scrubs (10.2%), business dress (8.8%), and casual dress (4.7%). Their trust and confidence was significantly associated with their preference for professional dress. In addition to that, respondents also reported that they were significantly more willing to share their social, sexual, and psychological problems with the physician who is professionally dressed.

This gives us the idea that the perception of “looking professional” can directly affect the doctor-patient relationship in many ways. This is particularly important especially if this preferred attire results in better adherence and thus positive health outcomes. It would be critical since the diagnosis is partly based on the medical history of the patient, which he/she will disclose to the doctor.

The study made me realize how much of a factor physical appearance, clothing, and general “look” can affect very important aspects of our lives-including our health. Imagine what would happen if you get to see a person who tells you he’s a doctor, while sporting an attire that’s similar to what this group of people are wearing:

Would you trust your deepest, darkest medical secrets if your doctor would dress up like that?

Thankfully, I don’t have to be mean and be judgmental based on the picture itself. The study actually provided me with an answer: OH HELLLLL NO. And even though we all try to treat everyone equally, we have to face the hard truth: How we present ourselves, in one way or another, will affect our interpersonal relationships, no matter what field that may be. Now that I know of this, I’m sure gonna try to take a look on my doctor the next time I visit her from head-to-toe. Who knows? If her look is Lookbook worthy, I might even share some secrets I’d never tell(You know you love me, xoxo gossip girl).;)

Rehman, S, Nietert, P, Cope, D & Kilpatrick, A. D. (2005). What to wear today? effect of doctor’s attire on the trust and confidence of patients. The American Journal of Medicine,118(11), 1279-1286. DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2005.04.026

It’s all about the package… ;)

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Yes, his package may be an effective way to advertise food too. 😉 Pahingi ngang kanin! 😉

OOPS. So sorry! I wasn’t talking about THAT kind of package! 😉

“Amoy Delicious, Crispylicious, Juicylicious, Gravylicious, Langhap-Sarap…” If you don’t automatically think of Jollibee’s ChickenJoy after you read that phrase, there’s something wrong with you. Actually that could make me think you had a very sad childhood(I’m judging you, seriously).

Personally, this phrase has been around all my life, and I think I’ve let it get to me too much. Ever since I was a child, whenever I see this “tagline” in Jollibee commercials, print ads or billboards, I tug my mom and annoy her so much until she brings me to the nearest Jollibee branch available to eat ChickenJoy. Yes, okay I admit maybe that could let you think I was a spoiled brat, but I wasn’t(self serving bias, ehehe). I believe that the advertising and the packaging of the product was highly effective and that led to my annoying(yet highly effective) behavior.

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This made me think about how big of a role advertising plays in food. Research shows that Kraft Foods spent $1.5 billion in 2007 on advertising in the United States alone, whereas PepsiCo spent $1.31 billion and McDonalds spent $1.14 billion (Advertising Age Data Center 2008). Considering that big bucks were involved in advertising food, the obvious question comes to play: What is the most effective way do so?

The most apparent answer is to describe the taste of food right? This is expected since the ad is for food after all. The less obvious and consequently seldom used solution is to bring attention to the unique multisensory aspects of taste perception. In a research by Elder & Krishna(2010), the focal point of the study was how and why multisensory advertising for food ads can enhance taste perceptions.

Their study proposed that multisensory ads resulted in higher taste perceptions than ads focusing on taste alone. They also tried to identify different variables distributed in three experiments in order to verify if this hypothesis is true. In the first study, they showed that something that is as simple as a slogan could affect taste perceptions for gum. Specifically, the study showed that a multiple-sense slogan(Stimulate your senses) led to higher taste perceptions than a single-sense slogan(“Long Lasting Flavor”). Study 2 which focused on potato chips replicated and extended these results by showing the effect of verbal sensory advertising on taste perceptions. The single-sense (multiple-sense alterations in parenthesis) ad read:

“Our potato chips deliver the taste you crave. From the first bite you’ll savor the rich barbecue flavor (smell) and enjoy the delicious salty taste (crunchy texture)—our potato chips are the perfect choice for your snacking.”

Finally, study 3 which was about popcorn advertising further explicated the deliberate, top-down nature of the results, showing that the effect of the ad on taste perceptions is moderated by cognitive resource availability. It was identified that the multiple-sense ad (vs. a single-sense ad) has a smaller effect on enhancing taste perceptions under the condition of cognitive load. In other words, when people are exposed to activities that require cognitive processing before exposure to the ad, the multiple-sense ad and single-sense ad result in similar taste perception.

It was a very fascinating study because I never took the time to think about these things. Whenever I see an advertisement, i don’t think about the content of it, and instead I focus on the actions that I would do after that like shop for clothes, eat that thing, drink with friends, etc. Considering the fact that big-ass billboards are all around Manila, this study made me realize that there’s more to just merely “play with words” when ads like these are conceptualized. Okay, now I give way to all these amazing advertisements that have caught our attention, stuck in our heads, and made us eat our hearts out. 😉

Okay, enough now. All these food commercials is making me hungry. Which means, they were effective! :))

Hoping you had a great multisensory ad viewing experience,

Adi. 😉

Elder, R. & Krishna, A. (2010). The Effects of Advertising Copy on Sensory Thoughts and Perceived Taste. Journal of Consumer Research, 36 (2). 748-756. doi: 10.1086/605327