UT Dallas Faculty Tackle Super Bowl Topics
Researchers Provide Advice and Insight on the Week of the Big Game

Interest in the Super Bowl extends beyond the game field for some researchers at UT Dallas. Four shared ideas about what to watch (and watch out for) on game day. The topics include air safety, the dangers of fan noise, TV ad spending and how cultural differences may affect brain responses among viewers.

Bowl Business

At $3 million for a half-minute of air time, Super Bowl ad costs are at an all-time high, but a UT Dallas marketing professor says companies that can afford it are buying much more than 30 seconds of influence. From water cooler talk to talking heads critiquing the best and worst ads, the hype and buzz continue for weeks. Ads also get millions of hits on YouTube, advertisers’ websites and networks. And in today’s world of social media, buzz and viral marketing offer advertisers a veritable goldmine of free exposure.

“Lay to rest the whispers about cautious spending, an uncertain economy, decline of traditional mass media and the like,” said Dr. Abhi Biswas, an associate coordinator of the marketing program in UT Dallas’ School of Management. “Even at this stunning sticker-shock level, firms haven’t shied away from advertising’s annual extravaganza. And the costs may not seem high when you consider that this year’s Super Bowl could become the single most-watched program in the history of television, with an expected 110 million viewers in more than 230 countries.”

Your Brain on the Bowl

Millions of Super Bowl viewers around the world will be watching the same event, but they will see very different games, depending on what cultures they represent.  Dr. Denise Park, director of the UT Dallas Center for Vital Longevity, and other researchers have shown that people brought up in East Asian cultures tend to take a more panoramic view when looking at a scene, while Westerners tend to zoom in on central objects.

“Our data suggest that people raised in these two different cultural/ethnic groups focus on different elements of the same picture,” said Park. “Their eyes are seeing the same thing, but their brains are filtering the information in different ways. When it comes to watching the game, this could mean that Americans might be better at focusing on the quarterback holding the ball while dropping back to pass, while East Asians might be better at picking up a blitzing defense by seeing the wider field.” Read More

Hearing Cheers?

If you’re attending Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington or making plans to watch the game from a noisy restaurant or bar, make sure the noise levels don’t damage your hearing. Dr. Kenneth Pugh, head of the clinical audiology division at UT Dallas’ Callier Center for Communication Disorders, says being around excessively loud noise levels can impact your hearing no matter what your age. When loud noise can’t be avoided, Pugh offers these tips to protect your hearing:  Don’t sit directly in front of or relatively close to loudspeakers, take a break from noisy areas, and if you experience hearing difficulty from noise exposure, consult your doctor or an audiologist to get your hearing tested.

“Damage is often influenced by the length of time you’re in a noisy environment as well as the noise level itself,” Pugh said.  “A good way to gauge the noise level is to determine if the surrounding sounds are too loud for you to hear a conversation without shouting. If shouting is needed, the surrounding noise may be too loud.”   

Keeping Fans Safe

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is monitoring the air for traces of chemicals or radiological materials that could indicate poor air quality—or even terrorism—in the run-up to Super Bowl XLV. If there’s a problem, a UT Dallas professor will be standing by to help.

Dr. Doug Harris is director of the Emergency Preparedness Center of the University’s CyberSecurity and Preparedness Institute, which is dedicated to ensuring a rapid response to chemical incidents and other hazards.

“We quickly provide vital information to first responders when an incident occurs,” said Harris.  “The center operates a system called E-Plan that tracks hazardous materials at chemical plants and other facilities.  Funded with $4 million from the EPA and the Department of Homeland Security, E-Plan is Web-based and provides fast, easy and secure access to first responders.”


Abhi Biswas, associate coordinator of the marketing program in the School of Management Dr. Denise Park, director of Center for Vital Longevity



Dr. Kenneth Pugh, head of clinical audiology at UT Dallas’ Callier Center for Communication Disorders Dr. Doug Harris, director of the CyberSecurity and Preparedness Institute

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].