Mental Imagery Processing
and Emotional Experiences
Tilburg University, The Netherlands
Recently, Meyers-Levy and Malaviya (1999) provided an integrative framework of judgment formation and persuasion. The framework assumes that, when exposed to an advertisement, people use either a fairly effortful and deliberative “systematic” approach to judgment formation or a far less demanding and less rigorous “heuristic” approach. Furthermore, there is an “experiential processing strategy.” When this third strategy operates, judgments are not based on thoughts prompted by a message content per se but rather on sensations or feelings prompted by the very act of processing (Strack, 1992). Judgments that are based on these sensations may require only the most meager level of cognitive resources, as suggested by experiential processing having been demonstrated most frequently in conditions in which cognitive capacity is severely constrained. Other research, however, indicates that the effect of process-generated experiential responses on judgments need not be limited to severely resource-constrained conditions (Meyers-Levy & Malaviya, 1999). Regarding this, this chapter considers an experiential processing strategy that requires elaborated cognitions.
According to Aylwin (1990), adults can use three different, although interconnected forms of mental representation: verbal representation, or inner speech; visual imagery, or “pictures in the mind's eye”; and enactive imagery, a kind of imagined action or role play. Enactive imagery is specialized for representing the temporal and affective aspects of a stimulus. This is consistent with Lang's (1984, 1994) work, which shows that representations involving active participation are accompanied by more affective arousal than purely visual representations. In general, emotion research indicates that dimensions of affective valence (i.e., pleasantness or quality), arousal (i.e., intensity or impact), and, to a lesser extent,