A cognitive developmental study of children's attention to television commercials

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67 Scopus citations


From a cognitive developmental theoretical foundation, an experiment was designed to study the role of stimulus complexity in children's attention to TV commercials. One hundred twenty nursery, kindergarten, and second-grade subjects' attention to twelve commercials was observed. The commercials were controlled for content and manipulated for visual and auditory complexity with an information theory measure of entropy level. We predicted and found that the largest difference in attention to high- versus low-complexity commercials is for nursery schoolers, although in one block of commercials the difference in attention to high- and low-complexity commercials is not statistically significant across the three age groups. The nursery schoolers also are less stable in their attention than are the older children. Further analyses examine the attention profiles of the three age groups and the role of the visual and auditory channels in drawing attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-88
Number of pages20
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1974

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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