Creating the contrast: The influence of silence and background music on recall and attribute importance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


The author investigates the ways in which advertisers can use silence in radio commercials to increase attention to, and subsequent retention of, information in an advertisement. It is argued here that, when music is used in an advertisement, listener attention can be focused on specific pieces of information by cutting to silence just before presenting the crucial information and by continuing the underlying silence as the information is presented. An experiment is reported in which silence effectively increases the listener retention of ad information, in comparison with the use of either background music or background silence throughout. The effect was greatest when the highlighted information was the last item of a series. However, counter to expectations, advertisements with no background music whatsoever did not induce greater overall recall than ads with background music throughout.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-44
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Advertising
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Communication
  • Marketing

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