Research: 'Inner Speech' Can Be Disturbed By Chewing

Social science research shows movie goers are less receptive to ads if they're munching on popcorn. When we watch an ad on the screen, we subconsciously mouth the name we're hearing. And this "inner speech" makes an imprint on our brain. But if you're chewing your way through the ads, your mouth and brain don't go through those motions, and the message may not stay with you.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And our last word in business has the potential for a revolutionary change in the movie industry. It's: Popcorn Immunity. Sort of like diplomatic immunity but tastier.

New social science research shows movie goers are less receptive to ads if they're munching on popcorn.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK. It turns out when we watch an ad on the screen, we subconsciously mouth the name we're hearing. And the inner speech makes an imprint on our brain. You following here?

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: If you're chewing your way through the ads, your mouth and brain are not going through those motions, and that message may not stay with you.

INSKEEP: The chewing sound apparently gets in the way of your thinking, I guess.

GREENE: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

INSKEEP: Researchers in Germany invited subjects to a movie theater, that's how they found us out. Half the people were given free popcorn to munch on throughout the movie and its proceeding advertisements. The other half were given sugar cubes to suck on. And, of course, though sugar cubes did not last very long. A week later, the researchers invited the subjects back.

GREENE: The popcorn munchers didn't remember much about the ads that they saw. The sugar cube eaters show preferences for the advertised products

Maybe people were just enjoying the popcorn.

(LAUGHTER)

INSKEEP: Maybe it's the difference between sugar and salt. Maybe the sugar gives you more energy to remember things.

GREENE: Now theaters are fighting for revenue lost to Netflix and Apple TV. They might be jamming more ads. They just better not close the concession stands because I'm not going.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: That's the business news on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

INSKEEP: I'm Steve Inskeep.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET'S ALL GO TO THE LOBBY")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) ...lobby to get ourselves a treat.

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