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Why Advertisers Want to Know Your Deep, Dark Secrets

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Advertisers want to know all your quirky neuroses. That's because new research reveals that consumers are more likely to be persuaded by an advertisement that targets their personality type than one that caters to their demographic.

So, instead of creating ads that appeal to women between the ages of 25 and 40, for example, marketers should be focusing on targeting ads to nervous people or assertive people or impatient people, according to a study in the current issue of Psychological Science. The research suggests advertisements can be more effective when they are tailored to the unique personality profiles of potential consumers.

"Persuasive messages are often targeted toward specific demographic groups," said study author Jacob Hirsh, from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. "We wanted to see whether their effectiveness could be improved by targeting personality characteristics that cut across demographic categories."

The research examined the reactions of more than 300 consumer to five different https://www.businessnewsdaily.com, each designed to target one of the five major trait domains of human personality: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness to experience.

Each personality dimension is associated with a unique motivational concern that was highlighted in an ad.

For example, the advertisement tailored to extraverts included the line "With XPhone, you’ll always be where the excitement is;" for neurotics, the same line read "Stay safe and secure with the XPhone."

[10 Personalities Types Every Company Should Hire]

Participants were also asked to describe their own characteristics on a personality questionnaire. In every case, the ads were rated more effective when they were aligned to match the participant's personality profile.

"Although the product itself was the same in each case, its subjective value changed dramatically depending on the personal motives we highlighted in the advertisement," Hirsch said.

With more than $500 billion spent on advertising worldwide, Hirsch said the research, also conducted by co-authors Sonia Kang of the Rotman School of Management and Galen Bodenhausen of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, has broad implications for the development of tailored communication strategies in all industries.

"Personality-based message design may be useful not only for advertisers, but also for fostering any number of outcomes, from health promotion, to civic engagement, to environmental responsibility," he said.

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance business and technology writer who has worked in public relations and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter. You can reach him at chadgbrooks@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer with more than 20 years of media experience. A graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff as a senior writer. Currently, Chad covers a wide range of B2B products and services, including business phone systems, time and attendance systems, payroll services, and conference call services. Before joining Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago. Chad's first book, "How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business," was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.