Persuasive Imagery: A Consumer Response Perspective

Persuasive Imagery: A Consumer Response Perspective

Persuasive Imagery: A Consumer Response Perspective

Persuasive Imagery: A Consumer Response Perspective

Synopsis

This volume synthesizes and advances existing knowledge of consumer response to visuals. Representing an interdisciplinary perspective, contributors include scholars from the disciplines of communication, psychology, and marketing. The book begins with an overview section intended to situate the reader in the discourse. The overview describes the state of knowledge in both academic research and actual practice, and provides concrete sources for scholars to pursue. Written in a non-technical language, this volume is divided into four sections: Image and Response-illustrates the difficulty encountered even in investigating the basic influences, processes, and effects of "mere exposure" to imagery. Image and Word-presents instances in which the line between words and pictures is blurred, such as the corporate logo which is often pictorial in nature but communicates on an abstract level usually attributed to words. Image and the Ad-contributes to our appreciation for the exquisite variations among advertising texts and the resultant variability in response, not only to different ads but among different viewers of the same ad. Image and Object-carries the inquiry of visual response over the bridge toward object interaction. Having traveled a path that has gone from the precise working of the brain in processing visual stimuli all the way to the history of classical architecture, readers of this volume has a new respect for the complexity of human visual response and the research that is trying to explain it. It is of interest to those involved in consumer behavior, consumer psychology, advertising, marketing, and visual communication.

Excerpt

From Bill Moyers to Marshall McLuhan to Raymond Williams, cultural observers of the late 20th century have charged the images of consumer culture with profound effects on life and consciousness. In tones of utter certainty, critics like these have warned of the deleterious effects persuasive commercial imagery has on the human mind, the collective behavior, and the society's values. Folk beliefs about the powers of advertisers to manipulate viewers from behind the screen of conscious rationality have shown remarkable steadfastness since they first appeared on the scene in the 1950s. Whether the discourse occurs in a tavern or a lecture hall, the power of persuasive imagery has become one of the given premises of postindustrial life.

It is remarkable in light of all that has been claimed to find how little, even at the dawn of the 21st century, is really known about the human response to visual images, including those of persuasive intent. Despite the almost religious tone of conviction that attends charges of “manipulation” or “subliminal seduction” through pictures, the hard evidence that such effects can be consistently produced is simply not there. Instead, researchers who have chosen actually to investigate how consumers respond to the visual aspects of advertising, packaging, and other corporate signs have discovered that the questions are much more complex, the phenomenon more subtle, the viewers sturdier, and the sense of certainty more elusive than most observers have taken the time to imagine.

We have been fortunate, as the editors of this volume, to have attracted the participation of the leading scholars in the area of consumer response to commercial imagery. Several who have investigated particular phenomena—such as the effects of visual tropes or the response to corporate logos—have offered here a reflective account of their journeys of inquiry so that a wide range of readers can share and . . .

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