Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 4, No. 3 (2007)

Instilling Resistance to Scarcity Advertisements

Savia A Coutinho, Northern Illinois University
Brad J. Sagarin


This study examined the effectiveness of instilling resistance to scarcity advertisements among college students. Participants, who were undergraduate students enrolled in introductory psychology classes in their first year of college, were taught the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate uses of scarcity in advertisements through constructivist learning theory –based training. Following Constructivist Learning Theory which suggests that direct experience is a powerful learning tool, some participants had their vulnerability to deception demonstrated to them by unambiguously showing them that they had been misled by illegitimate scarcity advertisements. Other participants only read about how to distinguish illegitimate from legitimate uses of scarcity in advertisements. Results showed that participants with direct experience of demonstrated vulnerability found the advertisements to have manipulative intent and to be unpersuasive. Results suggest that Constructivist Learning Theory- based programs can effectively train students on identifying illegitimate scarcity advertisements; such training in schools and colleges may help students become critical thinkers.

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