Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Economics and Finance


Advertising’s purpose is to create a state of mind conducive to purchase (Colley, 1961).

This study seeks to identify, measure, and understand the intrinsic motivators communicated within print advertisements and quantify their intensities. The theory is that ads with more intense motivator content - distributed somewhat evenly across all four quadrants of the Whole Brain ® Model - will be more effective in influencing that state of mind.

This research is the first step in identifying, quantifying, and visualizing motivators communicated within print advertisements. The study analyzed 15 print ads found in contemporary magazines.

The framework for this work is the research of Dr. Russell Osmond, who identified eight universal “Motivators” shared by all of us, regardless of age, culture, gender, ethnicity, geography, or education (Osmond, 2013). They are:

Esthetic – People who are motivated by things that add value to their life, and by
harmony, beauty, and appearance.

Independence – Individuals who value personal freedom, being in control of their destiny, and self-reliance.

Dominance – These people look for any advantage they can get to give them an edge. They love to be in charge, and they love to win.

Analysis – People who thrive on data, clarity, and precision. They are logical, rational, and love to crunch the numbers to prove they are right.

Practicality – These people love getting things done in a streamlined fashion and hate ambiguity. They love it when ideas are unfolded in a step-by-step fashion in ways that makes sense.

Structure – People who try to create order and have discipline in everything they do.
They value simplicity and become frustrated by chaos or unclear direction.

Humanitarian – People who desire opportunities to be helpful to others and find solace in groups.

Transcendence – Those who value unity and want to make a difference in the world.
They love to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

Osmond’s work found that these motivators are learned very early in life and become embedded when we are around 13 years old. They form from nurture - our home and family dynamics, and nature - the environment and dominant social values of the geographic area we grew up in. Absent a significantly powerful emotional experience, these personal motivators seldom change as adults. You are what you are. As adults, we tend to rely on just one or two motivators as our dominant ways of interacting with the world. The motivators strengths and weaknesses become the individuals modus operandi and frame the way they see, think, and react to the world. Once understood, they are the source of enlightenment for what makes each person unique and different.

Osmond’s work was influenced heavily by Dr. Ned Herrmann, who sought to apply brain-based research to the field of business and developed the Whole Brain® Model (Herrmann, 1999). This model is based on the neuroscientific premise that the brain works in four integrated systems - the key finding being that if we engage all four quadrants of “Thinking Styles” simultaneously when working on projects, we will arrive at better decisions. (See figure 1)

Osmond found that the eight universal motivators align with the Whole Brain® model, identifying two motivators within each quadrant. (See figure 2)

From a marketing perspective, the theory is that if we can design ads with motivators communicated strongly within all four Whole Brain® quadrants simultaneously, the more effective our advertising will be since individuals within the general population who engage with our ads are distributed among all four Whole Brain® Thinking Style quadrants and have different dominant Thinking Style preferences.

Using insights from these models, this research adapts Osmond’s motivators to identify and quantify motivators communicated within the sample of print ads. The result of this research is to develop a visualization to measure and quantify the eight motivators and their intensities within each ad.

One-hundred forty-nine people participated in the survey study. Each was shown 10 print ads from contemporary magazines (Sports Illustrated, Men’s Health, Vanity Fair, Oprah, People) and asked to evaluate the ad via a series of questions probing the eight universal motivators.

While further study is indicated, it appears that this research path may be a first step in providing advertising professionals with a quantitative assessment tool which can provide insight to improve an ads motivational effectiveness in creating a state of mind conducive to purchase.

Included in

Business Commons



Faculty Mentor

James H. Davis

Departmental Honors Advisor

Alex Romney

Co-Faculty Mentor

Matthew Meng