A lot of mental processes happen when people are exposed to images. They can either try to depict a narrative story or gather information. Yet how do these processes effect the overall judgment of the images when different goals are favored and different images are shown? The study notes the fact that using mental imagery inquires the viewer to suppose a viewpoint or even suggest positive or negative feedback. Consumer research has pointed out the importance in using self-imagery in advertising the customers to experience themselves in favor of their products. Visual perspectives can place the viewer to feel a certain way about images but little has been researched about the effect of using multiple visual perspectives on consumers. The study then questioned it possible that with specific goals one has while viewing different images can lead them to a different outcome?
This study aimed to explore the interactive effects of goal-driven self-imagery and visual perceptions on consumer behavior. Using four experiments that tested goal driven imagery and visual perceptions, they looked at imagination difficulty as a mediator, eye tracking evidence for imagination difficulty, and evidence for underlying representational forms. The study hypothesized that a difference in perspectives when processing images would have a negative impact on the viewers judgements of the information they were being shown. They also thought that having a goal to understand the images for a purpose of imagining a story about the images would either be beneficial in gathering information or have no effect at all. Offering images from different perspectives is hypothesized to make it harder for individual’s to construct a narrative of the imagery because of the greater mental processing. If the goal of the imagery is only to acquire information then the different perspectives could be positive or have no effect on the judgements of the individuals.
They tested out their hypothesis using an experimental design. For the first experiment 808 US participants were located from an online panel and were randomly assigned to groups. They were then asked to look at a set of hotel pictures and either asked to view the images using self-imagery vs. general imagery vs. control, and story construction vs. information acquisition vs. no goal, and to form judgements of attractiveness rated on a scale of 1-9. The second experiment used 331 Hong Kong undergraduate students were assigned to one of 6 groups of visual perspectives and processing goal between-subject design. They were then asked to use self-imagery to explain how well they could picture themselves in the hotel or how much information they could derive from a scale of 1-9. The third experiment took 117 Hong Kong undergraduate students to complete a series of computer tasks that tracked eye movement on hotel ads. They were asked to form narratives, mental images, and gather information and rate how favorable the ads were. The fourth experiment used 146 Hong Kong undergraduate students. Hotel pictures were shown to a group that asked to mentally make a story about a vacation, while the other group was asked to acquire as much information as they could.
The first and second experiment showed that evaluations were based off mental images. The more different perspectives shown the harder it was to create a story versus find information. The eye tracking experiment recorded that individuals who were asked to create a narrative spent more time focusing on scattered images, creating less favorable results than gathering information. The last experiment found memory to add favorable results in information gathering. The study summarized the findings and concluded that individuals found it more difficult to imagine the experience when shifts in visual perspective were required in order to do so and that this difficulty mediated their evaluations, this could be due to the unwilling of having to jump from different perspectives and remember different perspectives of images.
I found this study to be important while conducting my AT&T ad analysis because of the significance it puts on understanding visual elements within media. As an artist I find that the more visual images displayed no matter what my goals, are still make it easy for me to understand and visualize myself within the pictures. Surprisingly people had a hard time focusing on visualizing their selves at the same time trying to acquire information. The ads in the teacher’s screencasts for the AT&T ad offer a variety of different visual perspectives on how individuals comprehend the messages and experience of the ad. According to this research it may be helpful to separate different perspectives in the AT&T commercials. We can start to question the goals of the viewers and the goals of the teachers in trying to create an effective ad. The element of adding a persuasive perspective may make it harder for viewers to focus on one message, and the use of many images can create confusion. This study opened my eyes to understand important rules when visual imagery is combined with specific goals to either tell a story, or learn information.
R. Adaval, Y. Jiang, Y. Steinhart, R.S. Wyer. (2014). Imagining Yourself in the Scene: The Interactive Effects of Goal-Driven Self-Imagery and Visual Perspectives on Consumer Behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, 41(2), 418-435.