Anderson's (1983) theory about children's attention behavior during television viewing hypothesizes that attention behavior is affected by positive feedback (the inertia hypothesis) and the degree to which a child understands the television program. During an experiment, neither component of Anderson's theory was upheld. To test the attentional inertia and the understanding-and-looking hypothesis, video presentations were shown to children, and their attention behavior was coded. It was found that children's attention behavior is patterned and stable over time; children either have short or long attention spans. It is concluded that viewing behavior is shaped by an individual attention managing style or individual viewing style, which might be innate to individual children. Among the implications for advertisers is the fact it is possible that viewers look back and forth at commercials without either lowering or raising the probability of terminating or resuming their attention.

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ERIM Article Series (EAS)
Psychology & Marketing
Erasmus Research Institute of Management