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The role of mental imagery and visual perspective in consumer behavior

Authors Jiang, Yuwei
Issue Date 2008
Summary Although most consumers experience mental imagery, they do not always engage in this imagery. They may sometimes form mental images of the situations and events described in the information they receive. At other times, they may process the information semantically. These strategies can either be chronically accessible in memory or activated by situational factors. Further, these processing strategies may be employed regardless of whether the information is conveyed verbally, in pictures, or both. In my dissertation, I examine the conditions in which consumers adopt these different processing strategies and how their use of the strategies influences both their comprehension of information and its integration for use in subsequent judgments and decisions. In contrast to previous research, which has focused on the general effects of mental imagery, I investigate one specific aspect of mental images, namely the visual perspective from which they are generated. The first part of my thesis examines how the comprehension of information is influenced by the visual perspective from which images of the events described in the information are formed. Four studies show that when people generate mental images based on visual or verbal information, the difficulty of comprehending such information depends on the familiarity of the perspective from which the events are imagined. This is true regardless of whether the event is described in words or conveyed in a picture. In contrast, when people process information semantically, comprehension difficulty is not influenced by this difference in perspective familiarity. The visual perspective from which events are described also influences the emotional reactions that people have to the event descriptions, but only for people who use a visual processing strategy. The second part of my dissertation looks at situations when multiple mental images are formed based on product information. Four studies provide converging evidence that consumers with a disposition to process information visually find it difficult to process product information, and evaluate a product less favorably when they need to shift visual perspectives in the course of generating mental images. However, these differences were not evident among individuals with a disposition to process information verbally.
Note Thesis (Ph.D.)--Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2008
Language English
Format Thesis
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