The effect of personality on response to sexual appeals

Iain R. Black, George C. Organ, Peta Morton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to examine the role of personality in how people respond to sexual appeals in advertising. The impact of three traits (extraversion, neuroticism and openness) was tested. Design/methodology/approach: A mixed-factor experimental design was used. Gender, level of sexual appeal (manipulated over two levels) and participants' standing on each of the three personality trait scales were the between-subjects factors. Relevance of the product to the appeal, which was also manipulated over two levels, was the within-subjects factor. The sample comprised 156 undergraduate students, and each student was randomly assigned to either a mild appeals or an overt appeals condition. Findings: The results show that levels of extraversion and openness directly affect responses to advertisements as measured with attitude towards the advertisement. Research limitations/implications: Recommendations are made, including that overt sexual appeals should not be used on a target audience of "introverts", or people who are characterised as quiet, shy and reserved. Originality/value: This research extends existing work on the effect of individual differences on consumers' reactions to advertising and is the first to show that personality traits affect responses to sexual appeals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1453-1477
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number9/10
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2010


  • advertising effectiveness
  • advertising research
  • experimental design
  • individual behaviour
  • personality
  • sex


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