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What can help persuade people to do unethical things?

Background music is often used in ads as a means of persuasion. Previous research has studied the effect of music in advertising using neutral or uncontroversial products. The aim of the studies reported here was to examine the effect of music on the perception of products promoting unethical behavior. Each of the series of three studies described examined the effect of background music on recall and evaluation of a fictive radio ad promoting different types of cheating. The studies consider the effect of involvement, attitudes, priming and presentation context, and music’s valence. In all the studies, background music led to reduced recall of information. Positive-valence music reduced awareness of the unethical message, and increased acceptance of the product. The results demonstrate the power of music to manipulate and bias moral judgment.

Source: “Music and moral judgment: The effect of background music on the evaluation of ads promoting unethical behavior” from Psychology of Music

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