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Maybe Sex Doesn't Sell

Alert to TV advertisers: Research by a few enterprising academics indicates that the more sex and violence in a TV show, the less viewers remember the ads.

No, not because disgusted viewers purposefully avoid the products that support such stuff (if only there were more such disgusted viewers). Rather, suggests Iowa State University psychology professor Brad Bushman, viewers exposed to such shows are so affected by them that they don't remember much else, including the ads. Viewers shown "neutral" (more family-oriented) programs had a much higher recall of commercials.

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Perhaps now advertisers (and viewers) can seek out shows that appeal to people's natural alertness to watching a good story rather than creating viewer forgetfulness with graphic violence or the diverting titillation of sex.

No wonder reruns of clean family shows from the '50s and '60s remain big money-makers on TV, while today's earthier fare only muddies an advertiser's message.