"The fact that TV is a source not actively or critically attended to was
made dramatically evident in the late 1960s by an experiment that rocked the world
of political and product advertising and forever changed the ways in which the
television medium would be used. The results of the experiment still reverberate
through the industry long after its somewhat primitive methods have been perfected.
"In November 1969, a researcher named Herbert Krugman, who later became
manager of public-opinion research at General Electric headquarters in Connecticut,
decided to try to discover what goes on physiologically in the brain of a person
watching TV. He elicited the co-operation of a twenty-two-year-old secretary
and taped a single electrode to the back of her head. The wire from this electrode
connected to a Grass Model 7 Polygraph, which in turn interfaced with a Honeywell
7600 computer and a CAT 400B computer.
"Flicking on the TV, Krugman began monitoring the brain-waves of the subject.
What he found through repeated trials was that within about thirty seconds,
the brain-waves switched from predominantly beta waves, indicating alert and
conscious attention, to predominantly alpha waves, indicating an unfocused,
receptive lack of attention: the state of aimless fantasy and daydreaming below
the threshold of consciousness. When Krugman's subject turned to reading
through a magazine, beta waves reappeared, indicating that conscious and alert
attentiveness had replaced the daydreaming state.
"What surprised Krugman, who had set out to test some McLuhanesque hypotheses
about the nature of TV-viewing, was how rapidly the alpha-state emerged. Further
research revealed that the brain's left hemisphere, which processes information
logically and analytically, tunes out while the person is watching TV. This
tuning-out allows the right hemisphere of the brain, which processes information
emotionally and noncritically, to function unimpeded. 'It appears,' wrote Krugman
in a report of his findings, 'that the mode of response to television is more
or less constant and very different from the response to print. That is, the
basic electrical response of the brain is clearly to the medium and not to content
difference.... [Television is] a communication medium that effortlessly transmits
huge quantities of information not thought about at the time of exposure.'
"Soon, dozens of agencies were engaged in their own research into the
television-brain phenomenon and its implications. The findings led to a complete
overhaul in the theories, techniques, and practices that had structured the
advertising industry and, to an extent, the entire television industry. The
key phrase in Krugman's findings was that TV transmits 'information not thought
about at the time of exposure.'" [p.p. 69-70]
"As Herbert Krugman noted in the research that transformed the
industry, we do not consciously or rationally attend to the material resonating
with our unconscious depths at the time of transmission. Later, however, when
we encounter a store display, or a real-life situation like one in an ad, or
a name on a ballot that conjures up our television experience of the candidate,
a wealth of associations is triggered. Schwartz explains: 'The function
of a display in the store is to recall the consumer's experience of the product
in the commercial.... You don't ask for a product: The product asks for you!
That is, a person's recall of a commercial is evoked by the product itself,
visible on a shelf or island display, interacting with the stored data in his
brain.' Just as in Julian Jaynes's ancient cultures, where the internally heard
speech of the gods was prompted by props like the corpse of a chieftain or a
statue, so, too, our internalized media echoes are triggered by products, props,
or situations in the environment.
"As real-life experience is increasingly replaced by the mediated 'experience'
of television-viewing, it becomes easy for politicians and market-researchers
of all sorts to rely on a base of mediated mass experience that can be evoked
by appropriate triggers. The TV 'world' becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy:
the mass mind takes shape, its participants acting according to media-derived
impulses and believing them to be their own personal volition arising out of
their own desires and needs. In such a situation, whoever controls the screen
controls the future, the past, and the present." [p. 82, Joyce Nelson,
THE PERFICT MACHINE; New Society Pub., 1992, 800-253-3605;
ISBN 0-86571-235-2 ]
"Women are carefully trained by media to view themselves as inadequate.
They are taught that other women—through the purchases of clothes, cosmetics,
food, vocations, avocations, education, etc.—are more desirable and feminine
than themselves. Her need to constantly reverify her sexual adequacy though
the purchase of merchandise becomes an overwhelming preoccupation, profitable
for the merchandisers, but potentially disastrous for the individual.
"North American society has a vested interest in reinforcing an individual's
failure to achieve sexual maturity. By exploiting unconscious fears, forcing
them to repress sexual taboos, the media guarantees blind repressed seeking
for value substitutes through commercial products and consumption. Sexual repression,
as reinforced by the media, is a most viable marketing technology.
"Repressed sexual fear, much like all types of repression, makes humans
highly vulnerable to subliminal management and control technology. Through subliminal
appeals and reinforcements of these fears, some consumers can be induced into
buying almost anything." [MEDIA SEXPLOITATION, Key, 1976]