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''Draping a model seductively over the product on sale has long been a ploy beloved of advertisers.
But now scientists claim they have discovered exactly why sex sells – and it isn’t just because consumers think that if they buy the car they can get the girl.
Researchers found seeing an attractive man or woman in an advert excites the areas of the brain that make us buy on impulse, bypassing the sections which control rational thought.
Their study found that adverts using logical persuasion (LP) - simple, convincing facts - are less effective in making us spend than adverts using non-rational influence (NI) - feelgood, stimulating images.
A good-looking woman standing with her legs apart to advertise jeans was found to have a stronger influence on us than, for example, a car ad containing miles-per-gallon data.
This is because NI bypasses the parts of our brain that process ideas logically and rationally.
Researchers from the University of California attached 24 adults to monitors that recorded brain activity during LP and NI adverts.
The rate of activity in the emotional processing and decision-making parts of the brain was much lower during the NI than the LP adverts.
An cigarette advert showing a woman jumping over a fire hydrant with a smiling man behind her was likely to reduce our ability to make a considered choice on whether to buy the product.
'Watch your brain and watch your wallet,' said UCLA's Dr Ian Cook, who published the study results in the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology and Economics.''