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Paying attention to attention: A tension in advertising

January 06, 2020 / mediatel

In the recent general election debates between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn they both commented on the other one finding a magic money tree. But research suggests that even if someone did find a magic money tree, they wouldn’t notice the money. In 2010, film makers left 100 dollars in a tree on a relatively busy street expecting to quickly create a scene that they could film. The two most common responses to the stunt were that people didn’t look at the tree, or people did look at the tree but didn’t notice the money in it. This study was replicated by psychology researcher Ira Hyman who pinned three dollar notes clearly in sight on tree branches hanging over and obstructing a pathway on a university campus. They found that only 3% of people actually walked into the tree, so clearly noticed it enough to alter their walking, but that 80% of people failed to notice the free money hanging clearly in the tree. (Interestingly this rises to 94% if people were on their mo...