10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Advertising

When it comes to understanding the ins and outs of advertising, it may be important to understand human behaviors, emotions, and the psyche. The world of advertising has been taking full advantage of human psychology since the very beginning. Advertisers understand that they can use psychology to find what gets people’s attention. Cracking this code can persuade people to make purchases and certain decisions. So, what tactics do advertisers use to persuade people? How often do we actually notice the way advertising affects us? Let’s learn a little more. Here are 10 things to know about the psychology of advertising…

It makes perfect sense that psychology and advertising are intertwined.

The main goal of the advertisement is to sell a product. But what is the most effective way to do this? Advertisers across the world are incorporating basic psychology into their work. Basic psychology means understanding emotions and reactions. Advertisers aim to create advertisements that promote these specific emotions and reactions. It is also important to note that advertisements are typically geared towards a specific group, not the general public. Understanding the emotions and reactions of a demographic that advertisers are aiming to sell a product or an idea to is also part of understanding basic psychology. 

There are traditional and digital forms of advertisements.

Advertising has expanded and grown just as the world has. Back in the day, advertisements were limited to traditional forms such as print and radio. They eventually moved into TV commercials and other more mainstream forms. In modern times, there are many many digital forms of advertisements on top of the traditional forms. Some examples of basic forms of advertisement may include:

-social media
-Google ads
-other online advertisements
-web searches
-sponsored listings    

Advertisers may use the feeling approach to persuade us. 

Experts believe that there are two models that are crucial to understand to succeed in advertising. These models are based on the concepts of how people generally process information. While there are two models, advertisers will likely create an advertisement that leans towards just one of the approaches. One of these models is based on the “feeling approach.”

The feeling approach uses emotions to capture its audience. This emotion can be playful, fearful, mystical, etc. The goal is to pull people in and use the emotion as leverage for themselves. The feeling approach may also be used to lighten a situation. Ultimately, generating a certain emotion can lead to consumers buying a product. 

Advertisers may use the thinking approach to persuade us. 

As we mentioned above, experts believe that there are two fundamental models to understand to create successful advertisements. Another model is based on the “thinking approach.” This model is based on facts rather than emotions. The thinking approach is meant to allow its audience to use reasoning and logic to determine whether or not they are interested in a product. It does this by showing its audience valuable and factual information. For example, specific information on a product, its benefits, its advantages, and its main features. The product being advertised is meant to solve a problem or fill a gap in someone’s life. For example, a supplement for healthy cognitive function for those who suffer from Dementia. The thinking approach knows its audience and gives them the facts. 

People may be more likely to purchase something when they know other people enjoy it.

Psychology experts believe in the principle of social proof. This means that when someone is unsure about something, they look to the people around them for behavioral guidance. Experts believe that people make decisions based on the people around them, whether they be in person or through a form of media. For advertisers, social proof is one of the common tools they use to help sell a product. Have you ever purchased something online because the influencer you follow on Instagram claimed that it changed her life? Exactly our point!

People are far more likely to give their money to a company if they see other people enjoying and using things from that company. Advertising companies can utilize this tool by getting people to spread the word on social media, publishing good reviews, running campaigns, and more.

Featured Programs

When something is rare, people tend to like it more.

Similar to the social proof principle, advertisers aim to make their products as desirable as possible. Another tool for accomplishing this is scarcity. The more rare a product or an experience is, the more desired it becomes. Have you ever gone to a retail store’s sale after you read that the sale only lasted for two more days? Exactly! The fear of missing out or losing the opportunity for something only makes us want it more. It’s just how the human brain works. 

Creating a sense of scarcity is the most common way for advertisers to utilize this tool. They can do this by telling their audience that they only have a limited amount of products, run temporary promotions, use the correct language to promote the idea of rarity, and more.

There are varying techniques used by advertisers. 

All companies use advertising and marketing to sell their products. When they are creating an advertising plan they may be looking to do a few specific things. These can include looking to inform the public about their products, sell as much product as possible, create a reputable name for their company, and be loved in their industry. In order to do all of these things, advertisers use varying techniques. The most common techniques used by advertisers include:

-emotional appeal
-promotional advertising 
-bandwagon advertising
-facts and statistics
-unfinished ads
-weasel words
-compliments to the customers
-ideal family, ideal kids
-patriotic advertisements
-questioning customers
-surrogate advertising

Understanding human emotions can be a crucial skill. 

Humans are more likely to respond to language and media that generate emotions within us rather than statistics. We are emotional beings and our behaviors represent that. This is why understanding basic human emotions can be a crucial skill when it comes to advertising. When advertisers understand this concept, they can use human emotions as leverage to sell their products. These four basic emotions include:


Advertisers are trying to target the ideal audience for their brand and ultimately persuade them to buy their product or their experience. Since each emotion can promote different behaviors advertisers carefully choose the emotions that they are choosing to harness in their potential customers

Colors can convey emotions.  

Have you ever considered the psychology behind colors? Colors promote different feelings within us. For advertisers, this is a great way to grab their customer’s attention. It is also a great way to promote certain emotions with their products or experiences. There are some specific colors that experts believe can almost always promote certain emotions. These colors can be used in quite literally any form of advertisement aside from radio advertising. The colors can promote warm or cold emotions depending on how they are used. Here are examples of the warmer emotions followed by their colder emotions:

Blue: tranquility, security, peace // cold, fear, masculinity
Green: fresh, new, money, healing, fertility // envy, jealousy, guilt
Turquoise: healing, protection, spiritual, protection // femininity, envy
Yellow: Energetic, warm, happy, sunshine // unstable, irresponsible 
Purple: royalty, ambition, wealth // mystery, moodiness
Pink: healthy, feminine, sweet, playful, compassionate // weak, femininity, immature 
Red: love, passion, power, desire // anger, danger, warning
Orange: courage, confidence, success // ignorance
Black: protection, classy, formal // death, evil, mysterious
Brown: earth, outdoors, friendly // conservative
Tan: crisp, conservative // dull, boring
Gold: wisdom, wealth, valuable // self righteous, egotistical
Silver: sleek, graceful, glamour // dull, indecisive
White: pure, fresh, innocent // isolation, pristine, empty
Grey: reliability, intelligence // sad, gloomy

While advertisements are rooted in our inner psychology, they should be easy to comprehend. 

Linking advertising to the human inner psychology may seem like a big job. Analyzing human emotions and behaviors to persuade people to purchase a product may also seem like a big job. Understanding which colors promote certain emotions and the correct language to use for your audience may seem like a big job, too! However, for the customers on the other end of it all, the advertisements should be easy to comprehend. 
Customers need to understand the message, the motive, and the product practically immediately if they are going to be persuaded to give a company their money. Experts recommend that the underlying message behind every advertisement should be clear!  

Related Articles: 

Top 30 Affordable Online Psychology Degree Programs 2021

Top 50 Online Psychology Master’s Degree Programs

10 Fascinating Facts About the Psychology of Color