Unhealthy foods advertisements often use motivationally-relevant appeals–i.e., stimuli with survival benefits, linked to hedonic consumption or social eating contexts. These stimuli automatically attract mental resources, resulting in memorable advertisements that can influence consumers’ choices and well-being. Aiming to prevent obesity and encourage healthy lifestyles, we examined the usability of these appeals to promote healthy foods to young consumers. A mixed factorial experiment recorded memory in preteen children and teenagers who watched various depictions of social eating contexts and texts emphasizing hedonic versus utilitarian benefits. The free recall and recognition tests revealed that young people had better memory for food advertisements featuring social eating contexts. Depictions of large groups were remarkably lasting, contributing to 80% of the health messages being recognized and recalled. As hypothesized, these appeals were more effective for teenagers than preteen children. Motivationally-relevant social appeals make pronutritional media more memorable, influencing healthy choices in the long run.
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