Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies

Number of Pages



In an effort to increase attention and recall, advertisers have begun to use commercials that employ schema distortion that make the commercial seem enigmatic to the viewer. Recently, research in communication, specifically the news media, has focused on the processes of learning and recall using schema theory; The method used 12 commercials, 6 identified as enigmatic and 6 identified as non-enigmatic. The non-enigmatic commercials were similar in style to the enigmatic. A questionnaire and an edited videotape were developed to examine three areas of schema theory as it related to television commercials: recall, emotional reaction and the ability of viewers to make inferences. A total of 43 subjects participated in the study; No significant differences were found in the recall of the product/service or brand name between non-enigmatic and enigmatic commercials. The results indicated that enigmatic commercials do generate greater emotional reaction with significant differences in attention, curiosity and surprise. When the endings of the enigmatic commercials were removed, the vast majority of viewers were unable to predict the product/service or brand name.


Advertisements; Commercials; Distortion; Enigmatic; Schema; Television

Controlled Subject

Mass media; Psychology, Experimental; Psychology

File Format


File Size

2867.2 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have the full text removed from Digital Scholarship@UNLV, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.


IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit