Social advertising, which appeared in Poland after 1989, plays a crucial role in processes of social communication. Although it is still immature, it is becoming a vital element of education of the Polish society. Existence of mass social movements enables articulation of the issues that have been so far a social taboo. The article is an attempt to define a new research field in sociology, involved with social advertising.
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The aim of the study was to find out about the conditionings of the attitudes towards advertisements. In an experimental study conducted by the method of a computer review 90 students took part (30 subjects from each of the three countries: Poland, Germany and Great Britain). The subjects appraised 30 press advertisements with controversial contents, selected especially for the study. The study and statistical analyses were conducted in the three-factor variance analysis design with a repeated measurement: country (Poland vs. Germany vs. Great Britain) x type of advertisement (commercial vs. social) x kind of controversy (controversial product vs. controversial presentation vs. controversial presentation of a controversial product)). In addition, a measurement of value preferences was taken. The results of the analyses have shown that controversial social advertisement are valued higher than commercial ones. Contrary to expectations, advertisements using controversial presentations got the best marks compared to advertisements using other types of controversies. The most positive attitude towards controversial advertisements was found in the British, and the least positive one – in Poles. Besides, it was found that a negative appraisal of commercial advertisements was connected with a stronger preference for traditional values and a weaker preference for hedonist ones, for dominance and for stimulation. The results of the study are discussed against the background of subject literature and the direction of the future research is shown.